For more than two decades of his career, Wajid Mir – SVP of Player Engagement for the PTPA – has been focused on supporting professional athletes. Wajid’s 20+ years working with tennis players, NBA players, and other pro athletes throughout his time at IQ Sports & Entertainment and Roc Nation Sports have made him keenly aware of the unique experiences, challenges, and opportunities that pro athletes face. Now, Wajid is focused on advocating for players at a more macro level, working with the PTPA to bring more meaningful support, resources and opportunities to men’s and women’s pro tennis players worldwide.
You’ve worked in the tennis industry for years, and have served as an agent to numerous pro players. What motivated you to transition into your current role with the PTPA?
WM: The PTPA was something that made logical sense in terms of how we can help athletes on a broader, larger, more macro level. The PTPA is something that’s necessary in the market, and players are going to see the growth of the game and those benefits that come with an independent player advocacy group.
What’s one thing that you want all pro tennis players to know about the PTPA?
WM: The biggest thing that we want players to know about the PTPA is that the PTPA is here to advocate for you. Being a professional athlete is a unique experience, and we understand that, and we want to help you through additional support, additional opportunities for you to enhance your brand, and additional opportunities to improve the sport.
What has been one of the biggest motivating factors for tennis players to get involved in the PTPA and its mission thus far?
WM: I think every player looks at opportunities and considers “how can I give back to the game?” Well, the PTPA is a chance for you to take a stance that’s going to make some really positive impacts toward the sport for today’s players and future generations of men and women.
Your career has also included extensive work with NBA players. What’s something that’s part of an NBA player’s experience as a pro athlete that you think should be replicated for pro tennis players?
WM: Yeah, my experience with athletes has been very unique – it was basketball players first, and most recently tennis players. You really get to understand the plight of an athlete, and looking at the plight of a basketball player compared to that of a tennis player, they’re so unique. But one universal takeaway is that every athlete needs a team around them. In basketball, you’re fortunate enough to have a team that you go into with a coach and a whole process that handles everything. In tennis, players don’t have that, you have to provide that ecosystem. That’s part of the role of the PTPA – creating an ecosystem that can support the players.
Through your work with athletes in other sports, you’ve also worked with other players associations, like the NBA Players Association (“NBPA”). What should tennis players know about the impact that players associations have had on other sports?
WM: We have a lot of precedents for successful players associations that come from other sports like basketball and football – we’ve seen the growth in those sports, we’ve seen the positivity in terms of the player advocacy, so I think it’s something that’s really been missing in tennis. Players should know that a players association can help them not only individually as players, but it can help the entire sport. Players associations leave a long-lasting impact that’s going to really yield benefits to everyone – for this generation and for future generations.
Winners Alliance – the PTPA’s for-profit affiliate – will further support players through group licensing opportunities, which will create new, incremental revenue streams for players as a collective. 100% of players in the NBA, NFL, MLB, WNBA, and MLS participate in their sport’s group licensing program, yet a similar program has never existed in tennis. Why should players and commercial entities be excited about tennis’ first group licensing program?
WM: This is a unique time in the sport of tennis. It’s a globally popular sport, there’s a lot of interest, there’s a new wave of demographics that are looking at tennis, and there’s a new crop of superstars. We want players and brands to understand that this is an opportunity for you to enter this market through a unique avenue that hasn’t existed in tennis before – whether it’s through video games, trading cards and other things like that – these are things that are ultimately going to help drive the sport and move the whole pendulum upwards. And that’s what we’re looking to achieve through the PTPA and Winners Alliance – a positive way to impact the sport, increase viewership, grow the sport, and help the players.