Indian tennis great Mahesh Bhupathi said that with the tennis calendar frozen due to the coronavirus pandemic, careers of a majority of players could end if they do not receive financial help.
The tennis calendar has been frozen since the first week of March and Bhupathi said that a prolonged break would be disastrous for a majority of players around the world who are living from paycheck to paycheck.
“Only ten per cent of the players in both men’s and women’s sections have savings and endorsements to fall back on, the rest are constantly matching expenses,” Bhupathi told Mail Today.
“Most tennis players survive almost on a weekly basis. Players ranked even in the top 50 or 60 last it out from pay cheque to pay cheque. There is absolutely no comfort zone. Tennis is a very expensive sport in every sense and if you add travel costs, and what they pay to their support staff, it is a big burden.”
The nature of the sport is such that if you play and win, you earn, said Bhupathi and with no tournaments happening now, financially vulnerable players hardly have anything to fall back on.
“In tennis, it is like this, at the start of the year, the top players have to commit to their support staff (coach, physio etc) and the payments are like $2 lakhs per year. What the player earns, does not matter, he will be spending what has been committed to the support staff,” he said.
“All through their careers they are travelling and there are really no guarantees. It is not like other professions where you have a job and can take a pay cut. In tennis, you play and earn if you win. The situation now is very bad and there are no back-up plans,” he said.
“There has to be some kind of a plan in place which can help players sustain or you may see many careers coming to an end,” warned Bhupathi.