Tennis plans virus-related financial fund

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The governing bodies of tennis plan to announce as soon as this week they are launching a fund of more than $6 million aimed at lessening the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic for about 800 singles and doubles players.

According to an email obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, the WTA and ATP professional tours, the groups that run the four Grand Slam tournaments and the International Tennis Federation are expected to establish eligibility rules that will factor in the players’ rankings and past prize money earnings.

If $6 million were evenly distributed to 800 players, each would get $7,500.

The seven entities involved in the initiative are contributing to what the email refers to as the “Player Relief Programme,” and the money will be divided equally among men and women. The hope is additional funding will come via other sources, including donations from higher-earning players and auctions.

The email also confirms the WTA and ATP would oversee the distribution of the financial aid, something mentioned when word emerged last month of some sort of tennis fund in the works.

Like most sports around the world, tennis has been on hold since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

More than 30 tournaments have been postponed or canceled – Wimbledon was scrapped for the first time in 75 years, for example – and no sanctioned events are on the calendar until mid-July at the earliest.

That has left many players ranked outside the top 100, along with coaches and others in the industry, trying to figure out how to deal with economic issues. Some exhibitions are being organized without fans, including an eight-man event in Germany that began Friday and wrapped up Monday.

Most lower-ranked players depend on participating in tournaments to make their income; if they can’t compete, they can’t earn.

“It’s obviously very unprecedented. Most tennis players … most of their income is basically 100% prize money. Not everyone has endorsement deals that have guaranteed money. So it’s obviously a really big struggle when there’s no tournaments,” Mitchell Krueger, a 26-year-old American currently ranked 195th, said in an interview last month. “Outside of maybe getting injured – where you’re maybe laid off for a month, two months, three months, depending on however bad your injury might be – you’re kind of in a situation right now that most players have never been in.”

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.

Parma Ladies Open semifinals postponed to same day as final

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PARMA, Italy — The semifinals of the Parma Ladies Open have been postponed by a day and will be played shortly before the final.

The decision was made because of persistent rain at the clay-court tournament.

Top-seeded Maria Sakkari will start on center court against Danka Kovinic at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) before sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan’s match against Mayar Sherif.

The final will be after 6 p.m. local time, shortly after the doubles final – with the doubles semifinals also being played earlier in the day on a different court.