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IS THE PLAYING FIELD FAIR - THE 4 GRAND SLAM NATIONS


Photo - South Africa's Kholo Montsi, now 21, was one of the top juniors in Africa - top 15 ITF Juniors now at University of Oaklahoma.


As the second Grand Slam event of 2024 is taking place in Paris there are plenty of talking points on the court.


Is this Nadal’s last French Open??? What about the future of Djokovic??? Can he find the resolve to win another one???


All those talking points are good but a closer look behind the curtain in Professional tennis suggests that in a world/global sport the Professional ranks and survival week in week out on the Tours looks possibly far from even.


The four Grand Slam nations that hold the biggest events in the sport every year appear to have major advantages over every other nation fighting for relevancy in one of the toughest sports there is. They clearly have the most eye balls on their event when they host with TV coverage and media attention at its peak compared to the rest of the season. This raises huge amounts of revenue for those National tennis bodies and Federations.


What comes from that you ask??? Well how about the opportunity to grow the game and spend that money on future player development if that is what they wish. These nations can also upgrade facilities at their venues making it bigger and better and separating themselves more from the smaller nations. 


How about coaching??? Australia, France, United Kingdom and the United States are able to invest and spend that revenue on expert outside coaching and consulting furthering and fast tracking their own elite juniors development.


If you happen to be a youngster from South Africa, Peru, Egypt, Bosnia, Portugal, Belgium, Hungary or Romania??? Well too bad. That same growth and investment will not be coming your way because you are not from a Grand Slam Nation.


In a 2024 world where across the board no matter what the sport or topic is, the narrative appears to be, how about a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. In the global game of tennis that is hardly the case.


With limited numbers of Professional tournaments week in week out on the ITF, Challenger and ATP/WTA Tours, it has never been tougher for spots and opportunities. Each nation is looking for a leg up no matter how they can get it.


The biggest and most favourable benefit that the four Grand Slam nations get are the running of the controversial WILDCARD systems every time they hold a major. They get first choice to grant a free spot in the draw to anybody they wish.


With this WILDCARD comes huge prize money and ranking points which propel and catapult their own players and athletes forward in their careers. This helps in a huge way with the player/athletes travel expenses as well as getting into future tournaments.


Australia, France and the United States even swap WILDCARDS with each other in a reciprocal fashion which grants their players entry into each others Slam.


It’s a remarkable situation and one that just shows that these founding tennis nations appear to have huge advantages over the rest of the field because they hold one of the crown jewel events in the sport. The French Tennis Federation for example had 44 male players in the qualifying and main draw of this years French Open. 14 of those were with Wildcards.


Those 14 spots could or possibly should be going to players from other nations who are ranked higher. Those that are playing week in week out and have EARNT THEIR SPOT and not been given it. This same situation will be seen in September at the US Open where the draws will be littered with Americans with rankings not warranting direct entry.


There are a lot of ideas and discussion points on how the sport can become fairer and more equal right across the board at the Professional level. Abandoning WILDCARDS and having all players in tournaments based on their ranking and ranking only would go a long way to doing that.


The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open are the biggest events in the world, but It’s a true world game out there. Perhaps it’s time to clean up the holes and cracks that are glaring in our sport all for the sake of fairness and integrity.

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