With further suggestions of locker-room militancy – and the possibility of a strike at French Open and Wimbledon – Nick Bollettieri and Tim Henman tell The Tennis Space how any industrial action would affect the sport.
“No one wins if tennis players were to go on strike. It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong, it doesn’t help anyone. That would be a terrible situation – just look at what has been happening with the NBA. But I don’t think it’s likely that the players will strike as they have different agendas, different schedules, different responsibilities, different sponsors, and it’s going to be difficult to get everyone to agree. However, if a number of the leading players were to decide to strike, then that’s a different ballgame. But the public won’t be sympathetic – they will look at all the money, and wonder what is happening. It’s a political situation, and the players should have their voice, but a strike is not going to help anyone. The men’s game is in a great state now, and it’s not going to do the game any good for the players to put their rackets down.”
“I don’t think that a strike has ever been a real possibility. I think that’s got blown out of proportion. I’m not sure that the ATP is in the best interests of the players, with 50 per cent for the players and 50 per cent for the tournaments. Why aren’t the players represented on their own? With the unity they have right now, that’s never been the case. I look at it from Wimbledon’s point of view, as I’m on the board, but I think what they get paid at Wimbledon is very, very good. I think there are other issues. The schedule at the US Open is wrong, with the first round played over three days, and both the semi-finals and the final of the men’s tournament over the final weekend. It has never been right. The players should have better representation to get that changed. They are looking at trying to shorten the schedule and that’s something the players feel strongly about. If the players say they want a shorter season, there might be someone on the tournament side who is worried about losing his job, so it’s very difficult to get anything done. Can someone like Andy Roddick be a figurehead for the players? You need people like him to voice their opinions.”