The Association of Tennis Professionals or ATP was formed in 1972 by Donald Dell, Jack Kramer, and Cliff Drysdale to protect the interests of male professional tennis players. Since 1990, the association has organized the worldwide tennis tour for men and linked the title of the tour with the organization's name. In 1990 the organization was called the ATP Tour, which was renamed in 2001 as just ATP and the tour being called ATP Tour. In 2009 the name was changed again and is now known as the ATP World Tour. It is an evolution of the tour competitions previously known as Grand Prix tennis tournaments and World Championship Tennis. The ATP's Executive Offices are in London, England. ATP Americas is based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA; ATP Europe is headquartered in Monaco; and ATP International, which covers Africa, Asia and Australasia, is based in Sydney, Australia.
Tennis has come a long way since "Open Tennis" began in 1968 and the ATP's been part of the storied history.
The Grand Slam tournaments and all other national championships were open to amateur competitors only prior to 1968. Two years later tournaments around the world formed a unified circuit, which became the Grand Prix. In 1972, the leading professionals joined forces to create the Association of Tennis Professionals.
This direction marked another defining moment in the history of the ATP, when a handful of the game's leading players met in a secluded stairwell at the US Open to discuss the need for a players' association. Under the leadership of newly elected Executive Director Jack Kramer and President Cliff Drysdale, the ATP came to life with a goal of changing the game for the better.
One of the initial acts of the organization was the establishment of a computer ranking system that provided fair analysis of a player's performance as well as an objective means to determine entries into tournaments. The ATP Rankings began on Aug. 23, 1973 and has continued through today as the official ranking system in men's professional tennis.
From 1974 to 1989, the men's circuit was administered by the Men's Tennis Council, made up of representatives of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the ATP and tournament directors from around the world.
Although the period during which the MTC guided the game was one of tremendous progress and improvement, players began to feel more and more that they should have a greater voice in their sport. Players had realized the time had come for them to take more control over the game.
At the 1988 US Open, ATP CEO Hamilton Jordan (pictured), surrounded by many of the top players in the game, held the now-famous "press conference in the parking lot." The ATP released "Tennis at the Crossroads," outlining the problems and opportunities facing men's tennis. One of the options available to the ATP was the formation of a new circuit, the ATP Tour.
Support for the new Tour was quick in coming as over 85 of the Top 100 players signed a letter of support for a new system. Later in the fall of 1988, 24 players, including eight of the Top 10, signed contracts to play the ATP Tour in 1990. Also that fall, tournament directors representing many of the world's leading events voiced their support for the players and joined them in what was to become a partnership unique in professional sports, with an equal voice in how the circuit is run.
The 2009 season will mark the 20th year the ATP has administered the worldwide circuit of men's professional tennis. Here is a look at some of the highlights through the years:
1973: The ATP establishes the computer ranking system, providing a fair analysis of a player's performance and creating an objective way to determine entries into tournaments. The ATP Rankings are introduced on August 23 with Ilie Nastase debuting at No. 1. Other actions include placing tournament representatives on the road and standardizing prize money distribution and the conduct and discipline code. The ATP shows it strength and sends message of player unity after players boycott Wimbledon to defend Niki Pilic's position against a Yugoslavian Federation suspension for missing a Davis Cup match.
1974: The Men's International Professional Tennis Council (MIPTC), made up of ATP, ILTF and tournament directors, is formed to govern the sport as an independent, democratic, international body for the administration of professional tennis.
1976: The ATP Doubles computer rankings begin on March 1 with Bob Hewitt at No. 1.
1978: The Nations Cup, featuring eight competing nations, becomes the World Team Cup in Dusseldorf, the first ATP Championship.
1979: Full-time MIPTC supervisors are employed on the men's tour, and Penn becomes the official ball of the ATP. In a ground-breaking move, four young Chinese players compete in U.S. tournaments for the first time in over 21 years after being sponsored by the ATP.
1980: The ATP sets up a player pension fund.
1983: ATP membership approaches 500.
1985: At the request of the ATP, MIPTC passes a Drug Testing Rule, making tennis the first professional sport to institute a workable and well-designed drug-testing program.
1986: In an effort to make the calendar more coherent, the MIPTC moves the Australian Open a month back to January ('87) and the Masters a month earlier to December ('86).
1988: The players, under ATP CEO Hamilton Jordan, hold a press conference in the US Open parking lot to announce that they will assume more control of the game. "Tennis at the Crossroads" outlines a plan for players to form a new tour in which they would play a major role and bear greater responsibility for the future of the sport. The idea is quickly embraced by the membership. Eighty-five of the Top 100 ranked players sign a letter of support for a new tour within weeks of the news conference. Tournament directors representing many of the world's leading events voice their support for the players and join them in what was to become a partnership unique in professional sports; players and tournaments each with an equal voice in how the circuit is run.
1989: All Top 50 players contractually agree to play the new ATP Tour in 1990. A new calendar is structured allowing for an eight-week off-season and tournaments are realigned.
1990: Sponsored by IBM, the ATP Tour era begins with an equal partnership between players and tournaments. The circuit features 76 tournaments in 28 countries on seven continents, with prize money averaging a 50% increase at the events. Indianapolis tournament director Mark Miles is named ATP CEO.
1991: The first television package for men's tennis broadcasts 19 tournaments to a worldwide audience.
1993: The ATP Tour extends its global reach, adding Arabian Gulf tournaments in Doha and Dubai. Prize money continues to rise, increasing by 23%.
1995: The ATP Tour launches its first ATP Web site, ATP Online, and further broadens its reach by enlisting pop star Seal to record the anthem "Bring it On" which he sings at the ATP Tour Awards Gala and Night of the Stars at the ATP World Championships in Hannover.
1996: The Mercedes-Benz/ATP partnership begins with a four-year agreement. As the "Official Car of the ATP"; Mercedes-Benz provides official transportation at ATP tournaments, showcases prominent car displays at tournament sites and positions its Mercedes-Benz "star"; signage on nets.
1997: The ATP Senior Tour of Champions is sanctioned.
1998: Players form a new STARS program as the ATP Tour helps make players more accessible to media, sponsors and fans. ATP broadcasts extend their reach to more than 200 countries.
2000: The ATP Tour changes its name to ATP for 2001, introduces a new logo and rebrands its nine premier tournaments the Tennis Masters Series.
2001: A newly launched Web site, ATPtennis.com, highlights the new tournament structure. ATP Properties forms, instigating a more commercial focus and new marketing, licensing and broadcasting opportunities.
2002: Players gain greater visibility with appearances in television shows and popular magazines, prompting the ATP to launch its own publication: DEUCE magazine. The ATP combines with the WTA Tour to create the "One Game" program, enacting initiatives to better serve professional tennis fans.
2005: Etienne de Villiers is named ATP Chairman in June. ATP stars unite behind ATP World No. 1 Roger Federer to raise funds for tsunami victims, donating prize money and organizing the "ATP All-Star Rally for Relief." At the exhibition, the ATP and UNICEF launch a global partnership called ACE, Assisting Children Everywhere.
2006: De Villiers expands his role to become ATP Executive Chairman and President. The ATP signs several major new sponsorship agreements, including the naming of South African Airways as Official Airline. Stanford Financial Group becomes the Official Partner of ATP Doubles as doubles stars gain greater support and exposure through a promotional "ATP Doubles Revolution" campaign and new match format. The player challenge, utilizing video review for close line calls, debuts in Miami and is successfully implemented at 13 tournaments.
2007: The ATP introduces enhancements to fan, sponsor, media and player experience at tournaments, including elimination of best-of-5 set finals; reduced draw sizes at five ATP Masters Series events, making them 56-player fields to ensure player health and enhance TV scheduling; and Sunday starts to build Opening Weekends at ATP tournaments. The ATP also increases prize money for the first time since 2000 and creates a new multi-million dollar marketing fund. A renewed marketing effort encourages fans to rediscover the tandem game and find out why ATP "Doubles Rules." ATP revenues grow by 15%, a record 4 million fans attend ATP tournaments and broadcast hours grow with record numbers watching on television.
2008: The top three players, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, take a leadership role by becoming ATP Player Council members with Federer as president. It's the first time in the organization's history the top three players have joined the council in the same two-year period. All worldwide tennis organizations (WTA, ITF, ATP & Grand Slam Committee) formed an integrity unit. The ATP's Feel It player promotion campaign is implemented throughout the season. Sponsorship deals with South African Airways, Ricoh and Enel were renewed while a new agreement was struck with Barclays to become the sponsor of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
2010: During the season two major sponsors were announced with the signing of Corona Extra as a premier partner, and FedEx as a platinum partner. In November, ATP Executive Chairman and President Adam Helfant announced that the 2012 calendar was approved to include the extension of the off-season to seven weeks. The increased break, designed to allow players more time for rest and training between seasons, was approved for the 2012-13 ATP World Tour calendars by the ATP Board at its London meetings.
Adam Helfant is the current Executive Chairman and President of ATP with Mark Young as the CEO of Americas. Laurent Delanney is the CEO of Europe while Brad Drewett heads as CEO of the International group.
The 7-member ATP Board of Directors includes Adam Helfant along with tournament representatives, Gavin Forbes, Mark Webster and Graham Pearce. It also includes three player representatives with two-year terms, Giorgio di Palermo as the European representative, David Edges as the International representative and Justin Gimelstob as the Americas representative. The player representatives are elected by the ATP Player Council.
The 10-member ATP Player Council delivers advisory decisions to the Board of Directors, which has the power to accept or reject the Council's suggestions. The Council consists of four players who are ranked within top 50 in singles (Roger Federer (President), Rafael Nadal (Vice President), Sam Querrey and Fernando González), two players who are ranked between 51 and 100 in singles (Peter Luczak and Jarkko Nieminen), two top 100 players in doubles (Eric Butorac and Nenad Zimonjić) and two at-large members (Yves Allegro and Ashley Fisher).
Executive Chairman and President:
Board of Directors
Giorgio di Palermo
Grand Slams (4)
ATP World Tour Finals (1)
ATP World Tour Masters Series (9)
ATP World Tour 500 (11)
ATP World Tour 250 (40)
ATP World Team Cup (1)
ATP Challenger Tour (178)