The fourth tenet of the PTPA Principles focuses on ensuring professional tennis players’ welfare and protecting players from abuse. Principle #4 includes eight distinct player rights and guarantees: a right to security, a right to fair anti-corruption and anti-doping programs, guaranteed access to mental health resources, welfare and transition support, educational and advisory support, protections and safeguarding regulations, and safe training facilities and equipment. Below is an in-depth explanation of these rights and how they aim to benefit the daily lives of professional tennis players.
Principle 4a: Security
Tennis players must be protected as they travel across the globe and in their homes. Tennis events must utilize all appropriate safety and security measures for the protection of both players and fans.
Tennis players, like all public figures, face certain safety risks in their daily lives as a result of their public status. As players spend so much time traveling the world on tour, it’s imperative that protective mechanisms are in place to ensure players’ safety and security while traveling through means such as private transportation to and from the airport, expedited customs and security processes, and access to private waiting areas, for example. Players’ homes must also be protected – both when the player is traveling and his or her home is left empty, and when the player is physically home.
At tournaments, where players are the “center of the spectacle,” event coordinators must be able to ensure every player has a safe, secure environment in which to compete. All tournaments and events must be able to provide adequate protection to players through on-site security, private player entrances and areas, private transportation, hotel accommodations in safe neighborhoods with security, and other means.
Additionally, the tennis ecosystem as a whole must protect players from harassment and threats. It’s all too common for players to face in-person and online harassment, and tennis must establish an effective system to protect players from threats, investigate the legitimacy of threats, and provide additional security if necessary.
Principle 4b: Anti-Corruption
Tennis players must be able to participate in a sport free from corruption, including undisclosed conflicts of interests and imbalanced benefits and opportunities that are not afforded to all players. Integrity threats must be combated professionally, collaboratively, and in accordance with tennis players’ fundamental rights. Preventative measures should focus on engaging, educating, and empowering all stakeholders, especially the players, rather than punishment.
An anti-corruption program is a necessary part of the tennis ecosystem to guarantee that the sport remains fair and unbiased. Anti-corruption programs must also be holistic, addressing not only the act of corruption, but addressing why players are placed in situations in which they choose to violate rules in the first place.
Furthermore, anti-corruption programs should have transparent, consistent punishment standards for violators, but must be more focused on preventative measures than punitive measures. Through punishment alone, corruption will still occur, but through a deeper understanding of what leads to corruption, preventative changes can be made to eliminate the causes of violations rather than just their manifestations.
Principle 4c: Anti-Doping
Tennis players must have a fair anti-doping program administered by licensed independent personnel with appropriate and undated scientifically determined thresholds in accordance with other major sports. Players must be fully supported to exercise their due process rights to challenge positive tests in a timely manner.
Players must have access to a fair, consistent, and just anti-doping program that protects the integrity of the sport without violating player privacy, ignoring globally recognized principles of due process, or unfairly punishing innocent players. The program must have clear and consistent testing procedures that apply to all players and are easily explained with notifications for changes to the policy.
Similarly, players must have access to a clear and consistent anti-doping appeals system. Without transparency and standardization in both the testing and appeals processes, players are unfairly forced to navigate a system that lacks clarity and uniformity across players.
PTPA Principle – Anti Doping
Principle 4d: Mental Health
Tennis players must have consistent access to world-class mental health resources.
In recent years, more professional athletes have openly shared their experiences and struggles with mental and emotional health, including professional tennis players. Day in and day out, tennis players in particular are faced with isolation, extended time away from home, extremely high-pressure situations, harassment from fans, and other stress-inducing scenarios. Players must have high quality and easily accessible resources to support their mental wellness, just as they have high quality and easily accessible resources to support their physical wellness.
PTPA Principle – Mental Health
Principle 4e: Welfare & Transit
Tennis players should have more resources to help them transition into life on the professional circuits, during their career, and, at the appropriate time, transition out after their playing careers end.
Managing the transition into and out of professional tennis is not a burden that players should have to shoulder alone. Both transitions are extremely demanding, and to some extent, life altering. As new players enter the tour, they dive into constant travel, frequent isolation, high stress and cutthroat competition. As players retire from tour, they pivot to “life after tennis,” which can lead to struggles around identity, mental health, and what comes next.
By providing players with career transition resources and support systems – such as educational programs, financial planning, or continuing education opportunities, for example – the tennis ecosystem can empower players to better handle the different chapters of their careers.
Principle 4f: Education and Advisory Support
Tennis players should have access to best-in-class financial, tax, legal, insurance, public relations, and health and wellness education and support.
Expanding on Principle 4e, tennis players must also have access to a wide range of educational resources and advisory support so they are equipped with the tools needed to effectively manage their professional playing careers. Players should not have to bear the burden of navigating these professional areas of interest alone – they should be able to easily find and leverage best-in-class support services so they can focus on training, competing and winning.
Principle 4g: Protections and Safeguarding
Tennis players must be afforded appropriate protections and safeguards, including through relevant Codes and Regulation, education, and anonymous reporting hotline(s).
Players must have clear protections and safeguards to ensure the rights and guarantees listed above are respected and upheld. They should also be made aware of their rights through comprehensive education programs where relevant.
In the event that players’ rights and guarantees are not respected or upheld, players must have easily-accessible processes and tools for reporting violations of rights. Subsequently, standards must be in place for investigating violations and holding violators accountable.
Principle 4h: Facilities and Equipment
Tennis players must have safe facilities and proper equipment for training and practice regardless of where they are in the world.
The highest quality facilities and equipment helps keep players safe and healthy while training and competing, and ensures a level of competitive equality between players on tour. No matter where they are in the world, players must have peace of mind about the quality of facilities and equipment that they are using – this includes courts, locker rooms, gyms, recovery areas, balls, and other elements that players depend on.
PTPA Principle – Facilities and Equipment
Stay tuned for a deeper dive on the fifth and final PTPA Principle tenet, which focuses on players’ role in determining the structure of tennis.