Patrick Mouratoglou has expressed his concerns for the future health of tennis, as he outlined the issues facing the sport.
Speaking to Tennis365 in an exclusive interview ahead of his Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) event coming to London next month, the former coach of Serena Williams and one of the most high-profile voices in the game insisted changes need to be made to encourage a new fanbase to start following the sport.
The shortened version of tennis he has masterminded with UTS is an example of an innovation that could encourage change in tennis, with Mouratoglou insisting the time has come to make some bold steps to shake up the game’s long-established order.
“Tennis fans are old and getting older and the problem is not the age, but it is the same fan base since the 1970s and 80s,” said Mouratoglou, speaking exclusively to Tennis365.
“It is the same fan base since the 1970s and 1980s. It’s me! I was ten at the time and now I am 53 and this is teh fanbase of tennis.
“If we don’t renew the fan base and don’t bring in new people, it is going to fade away. That’s a fact. All the studies that have been made show the same thing.
“Everybody knows that, but it is difficult to make drastic changes as all the traditional fans will be upset. That is why I did UTS.”
Mouratoglou went on to insist ATP and WTA Tour chiefs are in a difficult position as they look to shake up the sport, with their core audience enjoying the traditions of tennis and reluctant to accept radical change.
“It’s complicated for them. If I was the CEO of the ATP or the President, I would be stuck,” he continued.
“They are in a complicated situation because they can’t disappoint the traditional fans, which is a lot of people around the world.
“They can’t take the risk to disappoint them and those people are very, very conservative and they don’t want change.
“On the other hand, we need to attract new fans. So the idea of a traditional league and a modern league, side by side, is the ideal way to enter into the next century for tennis.
“If we can walk hand-in-hand with the ATP, that would be great for the future of tennis.”
The 2023 UTS Finals will take place at London’s ExCel Arena from December 15-17, with Gael Monfils, Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune and Jack Draper among the star names taking part.
This is a rock and roll version of tennis that has attracted a much younger fan base since Mouratoglou introduced the format in 2020.
“If we look at the demographics, our average age fan is 40-years-old, so 21 years younger than the average tennis fan,” he said of the UTS fanbase.
“Half of our fans are non-tennis fans, which shows we have brought new people to tennis through UTS, which is the goal.
“It is clearly the goal to recruit new fans to the sport. This is clearly an incredible sport, but we showcase it in a way that is more modern and that fits better the criteria of what the new generation watches in general.”
Mouratoglou’s comments about the future of the game highlight the growing belief that change is needed and if the UTS format continues to grow at its current rate, it may well have a significant role to play in the future of the sport.
UTS is coming to London in December