The Net Post: John McEnroe for President
John McEnroe senior fancies a stint as ATP chief, plus the end of )
Could Etienne de Villiers be under threat from John McEnroe senior?
The Net Post is back after a three week hiatus in which time the tennis world has been blessed with remarkable stories. Rafael Nadal became the Olympic champion on top of his many wonders at Wimbledon and the French Open, Elena Dementieva won the women's gold medal for Russia and tossed away her bridesmaid's attire, Roger Federer jigged about like a demented man when he won doubles gold for Switzerland with Stanislas Wawrinka, Andy Murray won a Masters Series title in Cincinnati, his first. Maybe we should holiday more often.
And last but by no means least, Etienne De Villiers, the executive chairman and president of the ATP decided to stand down from his twin posts, just when he looked to have positioned the men's governing body where he wanted it.De Villiers gave a farewell speech to the players at Flushing Meadows on Saturday which was brief and to the point, the reaction to his announcement was polite. No tears were shed, by all accounts.
And so who is next for the hottest seat in the sport? Might this be the time for the twin governing bodies of tennis, the ATP and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour to seriously consider becoming one and promoting Larry Scott, the chief executive of the women's tour and a former ATP politico, to take command of both entities. It would be controversial but worth considering, even if the men may find it hard to swallow what might be construed as a takeover.
De Villiers, a former Disney executive (something certain players never allowed him to forget) is likely to find himself a plum job somewhere else in sport - my money is on a role in the vibrant but confused world that is international cricket - but will remain in his post until the end of the year so there is not a vacuum into which the new man/woman would have to step.
John McEnroe has not been slow in suggesting it is time for a Tennis Commissioner of tennis i.e. him along the lines of the US PGA golf tour, and John McEnroe, the Net Post learns, has applied for the ATP post. Not junior, but senior. The 73-year-old patriarch of the McEnroe clan - who used to carry in his suit pocket the British tabloid cuttings about his son he did not like and brandish them in the writers' face when they crossed paths - has let it be known that he would like to be considered for the role. He has written the following letter to administrators, agents and players, including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the No.1 and No.2 players in the world.
Gentlemen: As you all probably know, I am the father of John, Mark (my "normal son," the lawyer) and Patrick McEnroe. I have met some of you at various tournaments, Davis Cup ties, etc.
To get promptly to the point, I am interested in succeeding Etienne de Villiers as Chairman of ATP Tour, Inc. I am strongly of the view that the best interests of men players, particularly the top ranked players, have been very badly served by Mr de Villiers, to put it mildly, and by his predecessors.
The rules for participation on the Tour are an abomination. My own view is that NO player should be required to play in ANY TOURNAMENT if he doesn't wish so to do. Also, as long as a player's ranking entitles him to entry, he should be able to enter any tournament without requiring a minimum of tournaments each year. This is a position I have held for over thirty years.
You are all too young to remember that, in the early 1980s, I represented the "quintessential quintet" (Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Vitas Gerulaitis, McEnroe (John) and Guillermo Vilas), in negotiations with the Men's International Professional Tennis Council ("MIPTC") over newly proposed rules. Those rules included proposed "hard designations" by the MIPTC for the top hundred players on the ATP computer. You will not be surprised that the QQ were not happy with that proposal. We were able to negotiate an arrangement whereby the QQ and the Council agreed in advance what the "designations" would be.
I am aware that the Mercedes-Benz international sponsorship of the Tour ends at the end of this year and will not be renewed. As your new Chairman, it would be a major priority of mine zealously to work to find a new sponsor. Also, I would work diligently to find opportunities to monetize various aspects of the Tour in order to ensure its financial foundation is solid.
Additionally, I have represented John and Patrick in connection with all of their legal needs. This includes all of their broadcasting contracts with BBC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, Tennis Channel and Australia's Channel 7, agreements with respect to special events, endorsement agreements with Nike, Dunlop, Wilson, Snauwert, Sergio Tacchini, etc., not to mention a myriad of endorsements for companies not directly involved with tennis, book contracts and so on. I know and have interfaced with all the constituencies in professional tennis for many years.
Finally, I am currently Of Counsel to the internationally recognized law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP, where I practiced commercial law since 1967. From 1974 through 2000, I was a partner in the Corporate Department.
I would be most pleased to meet in person at a convenient time and venue (the US Open site?) with any or all of you, your agents and anyone else you deem appropriate. Please feel free to call or e-mail me with any questions, comments or suggestions you may have. Thank you all in advance for your consideration of this proposal.
John P. McEnroe
For what it's worth, the Net Post thinks it is all rather a marvellous idea. And, after all, the leader of the free world may be about to elect as a President someone McEnroe's age.