Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff voice outrage over the death of George Floyd

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff, and Frances Tiafoe are just some of the names who have joined forces and voiced outrage over the death of George Floyd.

Floyd died last Monday after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck until he stopped breathing in Minneapolis in the United States.

Serena Williams tweeted Nike’s powerful ‘Don’t Do It’ video along with the message: “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America”.

Teenage phenomenon Gauff released a powerful TikTok video protesting killings of African-Americans in the United States.

Wearing a black hoodie, the 16-year-old raises her hands as the words “Am I next?” are shown on screen

I can’t and still can’t find the words to say or express how sad I feel…. but she found them for me. She found them for so many of us. A lot of us are numb… lost for words… I know I am. This is a difficult time. A lot of us growing up were taught to pray “Let thy kingdom come,” this is what I continue to pray for in addition to so many that have been hurt/killed, or simply traumatized by how people of a different color are treated. The worst part is this is nothing new, “it’s just filmed.” I’m with a heavy heart. I’m lost for words. Video from @wealth

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Frances Tiafoe started a initiative called ‘Racquet down hands up’ to spread awareness against racial discrimination around the planet.

Players, coaches, and officials from past and present including Serena Williams, Heather Watson, Sloane Stephens, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Osaka and Gauff and her father all joined hands with Tiafoe to send a strong message and inspire others to not turn their back on racism.

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Roger Federer pips Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo to world's best paid athlete

Roger Federer has been crowned as the highest-paid athlete in the world for the first time, pipping Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to top spot.

Federer, the world No. 4 from Switzerland, has become the first tennis player to top the list, assembled by Forbes, since its inception in 1990.

He moved from fifth in the 2019 rankings to No. 1 by earning a whopping $106.3million (£86m) in the past 12 months.

Fellow tennis player Naomi Osaka – 29th on the list – had already been confirmed as the highest paid female athlete.

Juventus star Ronaldo, formerly of Manchester United and Real Madrid, was narrowly behind Federer, earning $105m in the last year, with Barcelona’s Messi ($104m) dropping from top spot in 2019 to No. 3.

Forbes athletes rich list top-10

Neymar, the Paris Saint-Germain attacker, came in fourth, with basketball’s LeBron James completing the top-five.

Boxing’s Tyson Fury is the highest-paid British athlete, at No. 11 on the list ($57m). His British boxing rival Anthony Joshua made the top-20.

Federer’s winnings were only $6.3m but his endorsements totalled a ridiculous $100m – more than Messi and Ronaldo combined.

His ‘Big Three’ rivals Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 from Serbia, and Rafael Nadal, the world No. 2 from Spain, both made the top-30, with Djokovic at No. 23 and Nadal at No. 27.

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Tennis fans freak out after a case of mistaken identity involving Rafael Nadal

Tennis fans were in shock when “Nadal” and “retirement” began trending on social media on Friday morning.

The name synonymous with the Spanish megastar, Rafael Nadal, quickly led many to fear he had decided to hang up the racquet and step away from the sport.

Ranked No. 2 in the world and with 19 grand slam titles to his name, Nadal’s fans were sure he had more to give. After battling injuries for several years, the 33-year-old returned to his unstoppable best in 2019 by claiming the French and US Open titles.

Thankfully, however, heartbreak turned to relief as it became clear the tennis great wasn’t retiring. But the undefeated racehorse, also named Nadal, was.

“Omggggg. Whew. Saw Nadal trending and mentions of retirement … Different Nadal,” The Athletic’s Prim Siripipat wrote.

“As a huge fan of both tennis and horse racing, seeing ‘Nadal Retirement’ trending was not good,” Adam Wiener of American news outlet CBS tweeted.

Nadal retirement announced. https://t.co/bCIMrcisPA

The reaction of fans discovering the news was about a horse instead of one of the most loved tennis players on the tour made for some fun viewing.

I reacted to the news trend "Nadal Retired" as any sports fan would. But apparently this is about a horse from Kentucky.

What's next? Ronaldo (who as everyone know is a sled dog from Alaska) hangs his boots? https://t.co/ZLG47OTvH7

Different Nadal retiring, not Rafa. pic.twitter.com/PDH8M1sMKj

I swear to god when I saw Nadal trending I thought yall meant the Clay Court GOAT is retiring and my heart sank. Turns out it’s a horse. pic.twitter.com/YclNJIfOl5

When you’re a tennis fan and open Twitter to read about Nadal’s retirement…. pic.twitter.com/Jpo0dfKi6F

Nadal, the horse, injured his ankle after a workout on Thursday, prompting the decision to retire him.

The three-year-old colt suffered a left front condylar fracture, trainer Bob Baffert told Associated Press. It was diagnosed after Nadal completed an 800m workout in 48.80 seconds. He had surgery during which two screws were inserted in his ankle at the track’s equine hospital.

“He looked good doing it,” Baffert said of the workout. “He got back to the barn and you could tell he was a little bit off. We X-rayed his left ankle. He’s got the start of a condylar fracture, a little faint line. There’s no damage, it’s not displaced.”

Condylar fractures are a repetitive strain injury that results in a fracture to the cannon bone above the fetlock due to large loads during high-speed workouts, and has proven to be career-ending for Nadal.

With AP

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Roger Federer’s coach provides injury update

Severin Luthi has backed Roger Federer’s decision to not start practising again amid the wait for the tennis season to resume.

Federer’s last match was an exhibition in South Africa for his foundation with Rafael Nadal, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and comedian Trevor Noah in February.

A few days later, the 37-year-old announced he had undergone knee surgery, which would rule him out until the summer.

Following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, all tennis has been suspended until August, meaning Federer misses out on Wimbledon but has more time to get back to 100 per cent fitness.

Speaking in a video chat with Brazilian tennis legend Gustavo Kuerten, Federer revealed he had no intention of heading back to the practise courts until he had an idea of when the season would restart.

He said: “I’m not training at the moment because I don’t see a reason for that to be honest.

“I am happy with my body now and I still believe that the return of the tour is a long way off.

“And I think it’s important mentally to enjoy this break, having played so much tennis.

“When I’m getting towards returning and have a goal to train for, I think I will be super motivated.”

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  • Roger Federer opts against copying Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Federer’s decision is in contrast to many of his rivals who have either returned to training or lined up exhibitions to play.

World No 1 Novak Djokovic has created the Adria Tour which will take place across the Balkans in June and will feature Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev.

Rafael Nadal has been back at his academy in Mallorca, Spain while Andy Murray has been working on his fitness at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

Nevertheless, Federer’s long-time coach Luthi feels Federer will still have enough time to prepare once it is known when tennis will resume.

“For Roger, it is not necessary to be hitting balls too much,” Luthi told Tennis Channel.

“The volley challenge that he put up on social media was more for fun. He is coming back from knee surgery. At the moment, there is no stress or pressure on him to practice.

“If the tournaments start again I think there is going to be enough time [to prepare].”

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Novak Djokovic reveals lockdown secret – ‘I was able to train almost every day’

Novak Djokovic has revealed he has been able to continue practising throughout the self-isolation period and opted to say anything to not ‘infuriate other players’.

Djokovic has been in Marbella, Spain since March when the country went into strict lockdown.

This month the Spanish government has begun to lift its restrictions thus enabling athletes to resume training in their respective sports.

Djokovic was found to have inadvertently broken the regulations after posting a video of himself practising at the resort he has been staying at with his family.

However, the Spanish Tennis Federation had not relaxed its rules by that point and the hotel issued an apology to the world No 1.

Since then Djokovic has been able to restart training and he has now flown back to Serbia where he announced the launch of the Adria Tour.

The exhibition which will take place on a series of dates in the Balkans will see the likes of Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov participate and raise money for humanitarian projects.

Speaking in a packed press conference, Djokovic was asked how he has been coping without tennis and keeping fit.

And the Serbian star revealed his residence in Marbella had a tennis court which he used daily.

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  • Roger Federer opts against copying Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

He said: “Unlike many other players, I was able to train almost every day because we resided in a house with a tennis court.

“I refrained from posting clips on social networks because I didn’t want to infuriate other players.

“I am fit and in good shape, so I am looking forward to the Adria Tour, which I am organising.

“I am delighted that Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev will be my guests here in my hometown.

“This is the first time any of them will be playing here and I will do everything in my power to be a good host.

“We would dearly love for fans to be able to attend but that’s still not certain because we have to abide by the Serbian governments coronavirus regulations.”

The format of the Adria Tour will see eight players, competing in two groups of four on a round-robin basis with the winners of each pool advancing to the final.

The first leg will take place in Belgrade on June 13 and 14 at Djokovic’s complex and the second in Zadar, Croatia on June 20 and 21.

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Andy Murray braced to make injury return as LTA launches Wimbledon stand-in

The Lawn Tennis Association has announced a series of tournaments to take place this summer in the absence of its crown jewel Wimbledon.

With the tennis season suspended until August due to the coronavirus pandemic, players and officials are looking for ways to fill the gap.

In the UK, the Government has lifted the restrictions on the amount of outdoor exercise people can enjoy, with tennis among the sports allowed to be played.

And in response the LTA, subject to confirmation from the government, has unveiled plans for four events to take place at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton between July 3-26.

The events will be open to the 32 top-ranked British players – 16 men and 16 women – and it is hoped the likes of Andy Murray, Jamie Murray and Johanna Konta will participate.

Scott Lloyd, LTA Chief Executive, said: “Since the coronavirus crisis, we have been working incredibly hard to support all our players, venues, coaches and officials through this very challenging time.

“I’m delighted to announce today the next stage of elite tennis’ return to competing safely behind closed doors as part of a five-phase plan coordinated by UK Sport with Government.

“The LTA is actively engaged in developing the necessary guidelines for behind closed doors events, which we hope will be determined by the Government in the coming weeks to ensure the safest environment for anyone involved in returning to competition and look forward to bringing tennis back into people’s lives this summer.”

Wimbledon was due to take place between June 29 and July 12 but was cancelled last month due to the coronavirus.

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  • Roger Federer opts against copying Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

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Naomi Osaka: How tennis star overtook Serena Williams to become top-earning female athlete

After she eclipsed tennis great Serena Williams to become the top-earning female athlete, we look at Naomi Osaka’s fairytale rise.

Osaka’s quirky personality and attacking style of play have combined to make her one of the world’s most marketable sports stars.

According to Forbes.com, she has now surpassed 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Williams, who had led the way among women in terms of earnings in each of the past four years.

Part of the stable of management group IMG, Osaka currently has 15 sponsorship deals, including with global brands such as Nike, BodyArmor, Nissan Motors, MasterCard, Shiseido and Yonex.

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fast and the furious : 大坂 drift

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fast and the furious : 大坂 drift

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Naomi Osaka: The Journey

We will me make it happen. Keep breaking those records 🙏🏿 https://t.co/G8b0yewA47

Osaka is of mixed heritage – she has a Japanese mother, Tamaki, and Haitian-American father, Leonard Francois, whose passion for tennis came from watching Venus and Serena playing together to win the French Open doubles title in 1999.

The family established their residence in Osaka, Japan, along with Naomi and her sister Mari for a while before they moved to Long Island, New York.

“I don’t remember liking to hit the ball,” Naomi told the New York Times. “The main thing was that I wanted to beat my sister. For her, it wasn’t a competition. Every day I’d say, ‘I’m going to beat you tomorrow.'”

NBA’s suspended but at least I got the memories of this pic to fall back on. I title this “Lebron’s getting jiggy with it” lol

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In 2006, they moved to Florida, where Naomi was able to use better training facilities. She turned professional shortly before her 16th birthday.

Osaka made it through to her first WTA final at the age of 18 at the Pan Pacific Open before her 2017 US Open first-round victory against defending champion Angelique Kerber put her name on the tennis map.

The Japanese star then began a momentous 13-month partnership with coach Sascha Bajin in which she rose from No 72 to the top of the world rankings, winning the Indian Wells title and then claiming back-to-back Grand Slams at the US and Australian Opens.

Osaka’s endorsement portfolio and social media following quickly grew, with her fans including TV host Ellen DeGeneres and supermodel Naomi Campbell. But the fast-rising star was careful to retain perspective. “My next goal is to win the next tournament I play,” she commented.

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“Ah 🙊 here we go again”

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“Ah 🙊 here we go again”

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Despite all the success, Bajin parted ways with Osaka after the tournament in Melbourne. She refuted rumours that the two had fallen out over money.

“Everyone thinks it was a money-related issue, but it wasn’t,” Osaka told the WTA. “For me, that’s one of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard. I travel with everyone on my team, I see them more than my family. I would never do that to them.”

[email protected] on the cover of @GQJAPAN drawn by her sister Mari pic.twitter.com/5kuJc4FrCD

Osaka hired Jermaine Jenkins, a former hitting partner for Venus Williams, but after going out in the fourth round of the 2019 US Open to Belinda Bencic, she announced the partnership was over prior to the Asian swing.

With her father Leonard Francois filling in as coach, Osaka won back-to-back titles at the Toray Pan Pacific Open and the China Open before pulling out of the season-ending WTA Finals with a shoulder injury.

She has since hired experienced coach Wim Fissette, who once guided former world No 1 Kim Clijsters to three Grand Slam titles, as well as working alongside British No 1 Johanna Konta.

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me and my mom lol.

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me and my mom lol.

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But Osaka’s Grand Slam season got off to the worst possible start when she was outplayed by American teenager Coco Gauff in the third round of the Australian Open.

She has since slipped slightly to No 10 and spoken repeatedly about finding it hard to get used to the attention.

Among the things the famously-quiet Osaka wants to change is voicing her opinions more than she had been doing.

“I just want to take the quarantine time to think about everything, and for me, I have a lot of regrets,” Osaka said. “I’ve held my tongue and things kept moving in a way that I didn’t really enjoy. I feel like if I asserted myself I would have gotten the opportunity to see what would have happened.”

“The future is exciting because you never know what’s going to happen,” Osaka said, in a recent Nike collaboration.

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Osaka’s $37.4M passes Serena for top earnings

Tennis star Naomi Osaka has been a Grand Slam champion and No. 1 in the WTA rankings. Now she is No. 1 on another list: top-earning female athlete.

According to a story posted on Forbes.com on Friday, the 22-year-old player earned $37.4 million from June 1, 2019, to June 1, 2020, from endorsements and prize money, eclipsing Serena Williams ($36 million) in that span.

Forbes said Osaka’s total is a one-year record for a female athlete, topping the previous mark of $29.7 million set by Maria Sharapova in 2015.

Osaka is No. 29 overall, with Williams at No. 33, on Forbes’ annual list of the 100 top-earning athletes. The full list is set to be released next week.

Williams had led the way among women each of the past four years.

Osaka beat Williams in the 2018 US Open final and then added the 2019 Australian Open title, allowing her to become the first player from Asia to be No. 1 in the women’s or men’s tennis rankings.

She has won about $14.5 million in career prize money, according to the WTA, a little less than half of which was earned in 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Roger Federer: Jo Konta makes ATP and WTA equality demand amid merger talks

British No 1 Jo Konta insists any merger between the ATP and WTA must mean equality on both sides. In April, Roger Federer called for the ATP and WTA Tour to come together as one on Twitter.

The Swiss star’s comments received plenty of backing from his fellow players but the likes of Nick Kyrgios are among those who disagree with the proposal.

At the Grand Slams, there is equal pay in terms of prize money but in regular tour events, there remains a vast financial disparity between the ATP and WTA.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King has long been an advocate for the tours to unite and with the tennis season suspended until August due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sport may not get a better time to hold these conversations.

Since his tweets, Federer has stayed silent on that matter but discussions are understood to be taking place to work out the feasibility of a merger.

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And Konta, who is a member of the WTA player council, has backed the idea but made clear what needs to happen.

“For me, for my comprehension, I don’t understand how it wouldn’t be of equals because if we are then talking about that, would it be us literally saying we are worth less than our male counterparts?” she said.

“It would have to be a merger of equals because that’s what we are. I wouldn’t see how, right now in today’s age, it would be allowed to be called anything else.”

With seven different stakeholders (ATP, WTA, ITF and the four Grand Slams) in tennis, the likelihood of a swift outcome is unlikely.

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However, Konta believes a united tour for men and women is the way forward for the sport and is what King has always wanted to achieve.

“Billie Jean King beat him to that a long time ago,” she said.

“It is something that has been something talked about for a long time but having Roger vocalise it drew attention to it.

“I definitely think in the long run it makes sense for it to be one tour, but I also know there are a lot of moving parts to it.

“I know there will be a lot of people who won’t want it to happen, but also a lot of people who do.

“I think there is a long way between saying this is what should happen and this is what will happen.

“I am definitely for it and think it makes sense, I guess we will have to see what the people in suits are able to come up with.”

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Andy Murray and Marcus Rashford talk tennis, football and attitudes

Andy Murray and Marcus Rashford talk team sports versus an individual sport, changes in lifestyle and the attitudes to the women’s and men’s versions of their respective games.

During this lockdown period, the duo have been linking together via their own social media channels and the ATP’s. After an amusing quiz and a fan Q&A, they have connected again for a more detailed discussion.

With Rashford being used to a team environment, having come through the ranks at Manchester United, he was eager to find out about Murray’s mentality as a largely solo performer.

“One of the nice things about an individual sport that the outcome of the match is solely reliant on you,” the two-time Wimbledon champion shared.

“If you go out and have a great performance, the chances are that you win. Whereas in a team sport you might play badly, and the rest of your team plays great and you still win.

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“In the individual sport that does put quite a lot of pressure on, you put quite a lot of pressure on yourself to perform.”

“When I played team sports at school growing up like playing football with my friends, I did love that. I still love the team competitions in tennis,” Murray added.

“It is quite different [as an individual] because the losses that you have are maybe tougher as you don’t have really a group of people around you that are dealing with the same thing.

“Sometimes tennis can feel a little bit lonely, you’re travelling, and you might be playing in Australia and all your family is back home. So, it’s not like when you lose a tough match, you then come in with your family or anything.”

I love the fact that in tennis, if you put in the work yourself, you solely can influence the outcome of the match. You don’t need to rely on other players as well.

Andy Murray

For both sportsmen, major turning points in their sporting lives arrived during their late teens. In Murray’s case that was playing at the Wimbledon Championships for the first time. For Rashford, it was his first-team debut for Manchester United and the now 23-year-old, shared how another side of elite sport crept up on him.

“I can’t say I’ve ever really enjoyed the attention off the pitch. That’s one thing growing up as a footballer that you never think about,” he said.

“You always think about playing in the first team and scoring goals for United or at Old Trafford or any stadium, but you forget how your life can change overnight.

“Things that you can do with your friends, things that you can do with your family, the places you can go, it all changes. I probably wasn’t as prepared for that bit as I was the actual going on the pitch and playing.”

Blessing the timeline with a little throwback this Thursday ♥️☺️

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“You’re just not used to or expecting that at all,” Murray added, totally agreeing with Rashford.

“I found that really quite stressful. It’s such a huge change in your life and nobody had sort of explained to me that’s what to expect, that’s what’s going to happen.”

With Rashford having team-mates around him, and Murray experiencing tennis largely as an individual sportsman, the 32-year-old was keen to know if others at United supported the young Red?

“Once I started opening up to them [my team-mates] a little bit more and having conversations with them not only about what happens on the pitch [the support was there],” Rashford said.

“At the beginning it’s just football, football, football and you rarely speak to your team-mates a lot. Usually it’s about winning the next game or what we’re doing in training.

“But, when you settle into the team you get to speak about other stuff that. They’ve lived it and know how to deal with, so I definitely used to ask questions about what to do next.

“What I should have done in that situation and it definitely helps me because now when I see the young players coming through, I can sort of tell them the dos and don’ts. Of course, make your own decisions but you know that’s what I would advise, and I think that’s what helped me to mature and grow up a lot.”

Going to get ‘virtually’ legless celebrating my win online @mutuamadridopen Hope anyone who watched got some sort of enjoyment out of it in these tough times. I’ll be donating half of the 45 thousand dollars prize money to the NHS and the other half to the tennis player relief fund. #tennis #castore #nhs #stayhome

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Alongside both working on their respective programmes to return to full fitness, both Murray and Rashford have been doing what they can to support others and raise funds for charitable causes.

The Scot donated his virtual Mutua Madrid Open prize money evenly between the NHS and the tennis player relief fund and Rashford has been working with FareShare, with over £20m being raised.

“It’s helping over 2.8m people per week now, so it’s definitely had a massive response. It sheds a bit of light on the situation and it just shows the type of people we have around the world,” Rashford said.

“You know, people out there have lost their jobs and yet they still have time to donate and try and help other.”

Not quite Oscar worthy but anything I can do to help. Happy to support the @coopuk @fareshareuk campaign.

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Both elite sportsmen clearly think about more than just staying within their own sphere and Murray has always made his feelings clear about women’s tennis and the question of sporting equality. Rashford himself, has a great deal of appreciation for women’s football too.

“Growing up I used to play a lot of street football, there used to be 15/20 of us that would go, and other than me, the other best player was a girl called Jodie,” he said.

“She used to play every type of street football that we used to do so I’ve always been interested in watching that and trying to follow people’s journeys. I think it’s important that it [women’s football] keeps trying to rise and more people should watch it.”

“I think that in tennis we’re pretty lucky,” Murray said on the subject of the women’s game.

“Men and women are competing in the same venues all of the time and at the biggest events. I think that’s one of the things that makes us unique and special as a sport.

“We’ve got the men and women competing on the same courts, at the same tournaments, for the same prize money and I think that’s quite attractive for fans of tennis.

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