Stan Wawrinka isn’t happy one bit for how the leaders at the ATP, which governs the men’s tour, handled the Justin Gimelstob situation.
After a few tweets earlier in the week, the Swiss unloaded on the tour in a letter to the London Times, posted in full here from Reddit:
The past six months have been eventful for the ATP and men’s professional tennis. Sadly, politics have overshadowed the action on the courts, and I feel compelled to express my views on this regrettable period in our sport. This episode has left many players, myself included, concerned about the direction tennis is heading in.
I started playing at the age of eight, the son of a farmer. My parents and this sport have taught me about real values, fighting hard with passion, commitment and determination, but most importantly with integrity and honesty. I have always been taught to stand up for what I believe in, and I believe that anyone associated with tennis should espouse these values.
What I have witnessed in the last few months is a worrying decline in moral standards.
I am relieved that Justin Gimelstob has finally had the decency to resign from the ATP board after being sentenced for assault, but I am dismayed by how long this took. I am also concerned that many within the game think this episode is now over, and are simply relieved at having avoided any negative press themselves. This is not good enough. We are ALL accountable and we must ALL learn from this.
There is no place in our sport for those who behave like Justin. The lack of responses from people involved in the game, particularly at the beginning of this saga, when he was charged last December, was alarming. This is a situation where silence amounts to complicity.
My fellow players on the council should never have been put in the position where they had responsibility for deciding whether Justin should have remained in his position. It is the duty of the board representatives to lead by example and protect the players. They should have immediately managed this controversy. Instead they shamefully voted in December for Justin to continue with his duties.
Many players feel that they were not represented properly throughout the last few months, during which so much has happened politically. I agree with them. I do not want to be associated with anyone who played a part in this, let alone be represented by them. I want to be represented by people with clear, strong ethical values.
Some people feel that the governance structure of the ATP does not work, that it’s too cumbersome, impossible to represent both players and tournaments. But I fundamentally believe in this system. The fault lies not in the structure, but in the calibre of people within it. There are numerous conflicts of interest to address throughout the whole sport.
Tennis is a selfish sport. Inherently people are too concerned with their own interests. This inevitably causes difficulties in the management of the tour, which have escalated in recent months.
At the end of last year, we saw record results for the ATP and men’s tennis. Now look at us. This political chaos is caused by a handful of people with personal agendas and, more disturbingly, with no alternative plan to follow up on their concerted plot to remove Chris Kermode, the executive chairman and president, earlier this year.
These moral issues are by no means unique to tennis. Indeed it feels these days as if every time you open a newspaper, another scandal is unfolding, whether it be in politics, Hollywood or the corporate world. It is more important than ever that anyone with a public platform leads by example and demonstrates real values — honesty, kindness, trust, friendship.
I am by no means perfect, as a man or as an athlete. I have been divorced and have made many a mistake during my 17-year career as a professional.
But I am passionate about tennis, proud to be a part of this great sport and determined to speak up where I see us letting ourselves down. This is a sport with global appeal, to men, women and children of all ages and all cultures. We have a responsibility to be the best we can be.
I hope our sport can put this dreadful period behind us, move forward and embrace the future.
Stan Wawrinka Professional tennis player, Switzerland
Wawrinka is clearly upset that no one on the ATP board or 10-man player council, which Novak Djokovic is part of, came out to denounce the Gimelstob incident back last fall, and none of the top players did either. And now that Gimelstob has resigned, he fears it’s back to business as usual.
Wawrinka never made a statement on Gimelstob back then either, but he and Murray were the only top players to do so in the last week.
That should change in Madrid where this will remain a hot topic in the press room.
Wawrinka once served on the ATP Player Council but no longer does.
The council will vote on Gimelstob’s replace on May 14 in Rome.
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