Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou targets new fanbase with innovative league

Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou hopes his new tennis league will make the sport more attractive and engaging for a younger generation.

Mouratoglou, the long-time coach of Williams, feels the sport needs to reinvent itself with his idea coming to the fore in The Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS), which kicks off in France next Saturday.

In changes from the main tour, players will not face sanctions for emotional outbursts on court, while fans will be able to question them during changeovers as they watch a live stream of matches.

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The event will have three top-10 players from the men’s ATP Tour in Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and David Goffin, joining seven others to compete in a round-robin format over five weeks.

“For many years, I have been worried about the future of tennis. The average age of a tennis fan is 61, which is very old for a fan base,” Mouratoglou said.

“Tennis is failing to renew its fanbase. And that’s very worrying, because the future doesn’t look bright.”

Mouratoglou teamed up with Alex Popyrin, the father of world No 103 Alexei, to create the league that he says will showcase “new tennis”.

“I mean different tennis. Taking into consideration what was better back in the 1970s and the 80s, and also bringing some modernity,” he said.

“I’m excited to showcase that and to see if this is much more attractive to the younger generation.”

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The idea is to create the tennis of the future. I don’t plan to be a competitor to the ATP and the WTA. My plan is to bring new fans to the game.

Patrick Mouratoglou

Mouratoglou, who has been working with 23-times Grand Slam singles winner Williams since 2012, said the UTS will not be another exhibition event.

“It’s a real competition and it’s a new tour,” he said. “The players are going to win points, they’re going to earn prize money. And at the end of the year, there will be a champion.

“So they’re going to really compete with the same motivation as if they were playing a tournament.”

The Frenchman added that they had studied what had made different formats in other sports successful, while they had also taken inspiration from esports.

“The idea is to create the tennis of the future,” he added. “I don’t plan to be a competitor to the ATP and the WTA. My plan is to bring new fans to the game.

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