At a press conference at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic took the floor to explain that the “tennis is in danger” and that it must face new sports that are more modern in their approach and less expensive, such as le padel and pickleball :

“In terms of innovations in our sport, outside of the Grand Slams, we must find how to attract a young audience. On the one hand, tennis is doing well, but on the other hand, if you look at Formula 1 for example and what they are doing in terms of marketing, to grow their sport, and how popular the races are all over the world, I think we need to do better on our respective circuits.

Grand Slams are always going to look good. But I think our circuits must do better. We are lucky to be a very historic and global sport. One of the studies carried out by the PTPA (Professional Tennis Players Association), three or four years ago, showed that tennis is the 3rd or 4th most watched sport in the world with cricket. Football is No. 1, basketball No. 2, then tennis and cricket, but tennis is No. 9 or 10 on the list of sports that use their popularity, market it and capitalize on it. I think there is a lot of room to grow. We are a pretty divided sport.

There are quite a few things we can look at and try to improve. We need to increase the number of players who make a living from this sport. You very rarely mention in the media that only 350 or 400 players, men, women, singles players, doubles players combined, make a living from this sport on this planet. This is very problematic for me. Yes, we are talking about this winner of Grand Chelem who wins this or that. The focus is always on the top of the pyramid, but never on the base. We still do a very poor job at this level. Very bad !

Tennis is a global sport loved by millions of children who pick up a racquet and want to play, but we don't make it accessible. We don't really make it affordable. Particularly in countries like mine which do not have a strong federation, a Grand Chelem, a story or big budgets. So I think collectively we all need to come together or create a new foundation, the cornerstone of what tennis really is, club tennis.

Today, the padel emerges and grows. People laugh a little and say “Yes, but tennis is tennis. Tennis is the king of all racquet sports.” It's true. But at club level, tennis is in danger. If we don't do something, globally, collectively, the padel, pickleball in the United States will convert all tennis clubs into padel or pickleball. Because it is more profitable. You can build three courts of padel on a tennis court. The calculations are simple. It is much more economically viable for a club owner to have these courts.

These are some of the things I wanted to share. Overall, we need to tackle all these challenges and questions. They have been around for a long time. I don't think we approached them in the right way. »

Thanks to Tennis Legend for the transcription / Djokovic facebook photos

Franck Binisti

Franck Binisti discovers the padel at the Club des Pyramides in 2009 in the Paris region. Since padel is part of his life. You often see him touring France going to cover the major events of padel French.