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Roger Federer's call for merger of men's, women's pro tours gains wide support among tennis stars – CBC.ca

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Roger Federer made a plea for women’s tennis equality on Wednesday, calling for the merger of the two gender-specific governing bodies that oversee the sport’s professional tours.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, who is recovering from knee surgery while sports around the world have been shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, expressed his opinion in a string of posts on Twitter.

“Am I the only one thinking that now is the time for men’s and women’s tennis to be united and come together as one?” Federer wrote, sparking a flurry of responses from fans and fellow players.

The professional era in tennis started in 1968, and the ATP was founded in 1972 and has run the men’s game since. The WTA was founded in 1973, uniting the women’s professional game into one tour.

The idea proposed by Federer, and others before him, would be to combine the two into a single body that deals with both men and women.

The social media posts were met with plenty of enthusiastic replies, including from Rafael Nadal and some of the world’s top female players.

“As you know per our discussions,” Nadal, a winner of 19 Grand Slams, wrote to Federer, “I completely agree that it would be great to get out of this world crisis with the union of men’s and women’s tennis in one only organisation.”

‘One voice … has long been by vision for tennis’

Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza, both recent Wimbledon champions, also gave the thumbs-up to Federer’s idea.

So did Billie Jean King, the American great who founded the WTA and tried unsuccessfully to unite the men’s and women’s tours that decade.

“I agree, and have been saying so since the early 1970s. One voice, women and men together, has long been my vision for tennis,” King tweeted in reply to Federer. “The WTA on its own was always Plan B. I’m glad we are on the same page. Let’s make it happen.”

There has never been a united tennis tour, but male and female players do play at the same tournaments several times each year, including at the four Grand Slam tournaments.

Much of the season, however, it completely separate.

“It’s too confusing for the fans when there are different ranking systems, different logos, different websites, different tournament categories,” Federer said in a response to a reader’s comment.

Ex-WTA chief exec previously called for merger

He emphasized he was “not talking about merging competition on the court” but rather the two governing bodies.

“These are tough times in every sport,” Federer said, “and we can come out of this with 2 weakened bodies or 1 stronger body.”

Former WTA chief executive Anne Worcester called for a merger of the men’s and women’s tours in an interview with Forbes this month.

Tennis Canada sees opportunity

Tennis Canada said a merger could create myriad opportunities to grow the sport moving forward.

“Uniformity of rules, denomination, fan-friendly access, increased influence, increased commercial force,” a spokesperson for Tennis Canada said Wednesday in an email to CBC Sports. “Any idea to improve the world-wide governance of our sport by re-uniting, by bringing international bodies together to join forces, we believe is a good idea and we should pay attention to it. Tennis should not be competing with tennis, but with other sports and entertainment out here.”

The national sport organization said a merger would give rise to Canadian tennis star-power.

“Our Canadian stars are also stars of their respective Tours, each trying to maximize exposure separately. A merge can only better contribute to their stardom globally, which is a great news for the promotion of tennis back here in Canada.” 

The spokesperson said a merger would also help close the gender-equity gap still existing in tennis.

“There could still be hurdles, but it would probably be a step in the right direction,” they wrote to CBC Sports.

All professional tennis has been suspended until at least mid-July because of the coronavirus pandemic, plunging the sport into financial problems because of a loss of income from things like ticket sales and media rights.

The 38-year-old Federer had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in February. The Swiss great had planned to be sidelined for at least four months before the outbreak suspended sports around the world. He has tweeted videos of himself practicing during the pandemic.

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Trump: Brees 'should not have taken back his original stance' on flag – theScore

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United States President Donald Trump weighed in Friday on the controversy sparked by Drew Brees‘ comments about players potentially kneeling during the national anthem.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback said on Wednesday he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” by protesting during the anthem. Brees’ statement drew the ire of players across the league, including several of his teammates, who reiterated that the protests are against police brutality and racial injustice, not the American flag.

Following the backlash, Brees apologized twice on Thursday.

The president tweeted Friday that Brees “should not have taken back his original stance.”

Trump was vehemently against players kneeling during the national anthem when protests took place in the NFL back in 2016.

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Jordan giving $100 million for racial equality, justice – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand are giving $100 million to organizations dedicated to promoting racial equality and social justice.

In a joint statement Friday on social media, Jordan and the Jordan Brand said money will be paid over 10 years with the goal of “ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education.”

“Black lives matter,” the statement said. “This isn’t a controversial statement. Until the ingrained racism that allows our country’s institutions to fail is completely eradicated, we will remain committed to protecting and improving the lives of black people.”

Jordan, the 57-year-old former Chicago Bulls great, is the owner of the Charlotte Hornets. The Jordan Brand is a subsidiary of Nike, the shoe giant that earlier Friday committed $40 million over the next four years to support the black community.

Jordan also released a statement Monday on George Floyd and the killings of black people at the hands of police.

“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan said. “I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of colour in our country. We have had enough.”

Floyd was in handcuffs when a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. Derek Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

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NFL’s Roger Goodell says ‘we were wrong,’ encourages players to protest – Sportsnet.ca

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league was wrong for not listening to players and is encouraging them to speak out and peacefully protest amid demonstrations across the U.S. over systemic racism in response to the death of George Floyd.

In a video posted to social media Friday, the NFL appears to be trying to make amends for the league’s handling of kneeling protests during the national anthem, led by Colin Kaepernick.

“We the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people. We the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We the National Football League believe Black lives matter,” Goodell said in the video.

The league also shared a video put out Thursday night in which more than 15 NFL stars said they were asserting their right to peacefully protest and asked the NFL to “admit wrong” in silencing its players.

The league appeared to be responding to its players’ request with Friday’s video.

“I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without Black players, there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of Black players coaches, fans and staff,” Goodell said.

“We are listening, I am listening and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family.”

Kaepernick sparked a wave of demonstrations across the league in 2016 after he kneeled during the national anthem to call attention to police brutality and racial inequality. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since that season and settled a collusion case with the league last year, saying he was blacklisted because of the protests.

The NFL initially released a statement five days after Floyd’s death that did not mention player protests or racism.

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