Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2023

Novak Djokovic fighting to overcome “completely unacceptable” inequality for “underprivileged” tennis players

In a passionate interview, Novak Djokovic has used his position of authority within the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) to highlight the lack of money filtering through to tennis players from the commercial deals with betting companies who are buying data from ATP and WTA tennis matches.

Novak Djokovic, the Co-Founder of the recently formed body that represents professional tennis players, is campaigning for all competitors to receive at least 50% of the money paid by betting companies using data from their matches.

Djokovic believes that the integrity of the sport can be maintained even if tennis players were allowed to be sponsored by betting companies and he is fighting for a ‘fair share’ of the revenue received by the ATP and WTA Tours from gambling organisations who pay for live data feeds from all tennis matches to be passed on to the players.

Djokovic makes it clear that he wouldn’t be prepared to be sponsored by a gambling company but thinks that at least 95% of professional players would happily wear gambling brand logos on their sleeves in return for sponsorship.

The 24 time Grand Slam winner was speaking on behalf of the PTPA and in a broadcast interview alongside PTPA Executive Director, Ahmad Nassar, with the full transcript of Djokovic’s comments published at the end of this article.

Tennis has a fragile relationship with betting but, since the rights to live data feeds were first sold in 2014, gamblers can now access instant live scores from every professional match around thew world which has in turn lead to various high profile cases of match fixing by illegal betting syndicates, as was highlighted in an exhaustive investigation by the Washington Post.

Novak Djokovic transcript from a video interview published by the PTPA:

“A thing that is very illogical for me is the fact that we haven’t moved from the same spot that we were at 20 years ago or maybe even more which is because of the integrity of the sport we are not allowed as players to put any of the betting companies patches on our clothes clothes while we’re playing on the court and we do not get a fair share. When I say fair share I mean 50/50 at least with the tournaments that are allowed on the other hand to have the major sponsors from the betting world. So that’s as simple as it gets and for me it’s completely unacceptable. Personally I probably would not get a betting sponsor on my sleeve but I know that probably 95+ percent of the players would do that and I would support that but if that’s not allowed then what we would deserve to have is the 50% of the of the share that tournament gets from these sponsorship deals with with betting houses.”

“I know that a pretty significant chunk goes to the player pension and which is something that I always support of course but we have to remind ourselves that you only become eligible for for pension when you are 50 or 55 (yrs old).  So for a player that retires when he or she is 30 or 35 he or she has to wait for 20 plus years to actually start receiving and getting the benefits from that deal and I think that it’s obvious that that’s probably one of the the biggest sources of income for tennis. I think players are probably not either fully aware or maybe they just are not pushing enough for their fair share from the betting. They are giving much more that they are receiving. They’re literally receiving nothing from it and they’re giving their names that are run through various betting platforms websites etc. So billions and billions of dollars are circulating on a weekly basis from the tournaments on different levels. Men and women players are I feel in a very underprivileged position in regards to that situation so that’s something that I feel like we need to talk about more. We need to raise the awareness about this issue to the players. Organize and structure in such way where in this particular area players are not benefiting at all and giving way too much of their own value into this and the rest of the tennis ecosystem is obviously profiting from that and we just can’t allow this to happen anymore and this is a very significant value and chunk of the money that is it that is out there for players to get a hold of.”

“In the sport and in the category betting is officialized. It’s happening and the betting houses are earning hundreds of millions of dollars maybe billions for all the tennis so there’s there’s huge value there and then lots of interested sides in the tennis ecosystem are also benefiting through that data deal but the players are getting a shorter end of the stick and are are getting literally crumbles or nothing almost. So that’s that’s what I think the focus should be because being in the player Council of ATP for almost a decade, whenever we would address this subject what would normally surface in the discussion is the integrity. It’s like we’ve got to fight to make sure that the sport stays clean. We got to make sure that the players are not cheating, they’re not betting, they’re not compromised, which of course I support and agree with but there’s kind of a psychological game right that you focus on that and you don’t really talk about the main issue here that us players need to be aware of.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.