ATP World Tour Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett will step down following a transition period after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, the men’s tennis body said.
Drewett, a 54-year-old Australian who took over the job on Jan. 1, 2012, will continue on an interim basis while the ATP’s board of directors searches for his successor, the ATP said today in a statement.
“I hold the ATP very close to my heart, and it’s with sadness that I make the decision to enter this transition period due to my ill health,” said Drewett, who was ranked as high as 34th in the world during a 12-year professional playing career.
Motor neurone disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, causes the degeneration of neuron connections, impeding movement, and most people diagnosed with the illness die within five to 10 years of diagnosis, according to www.motorneuronedisease.org.
Drewett has been part of the ATP for more than 35 years, serving as a player council member, player board member, regional chief executive officer and tournament director before succeeding Adam Helfant as the organization’s top executive.
During his 12 months in the job, the ATP negotiated with the four Grand Slams regarding a more even distribution of prize money that it says will benefit players across all levels of the tour. The ATP also has been fighting for a greater share of revenue generated at the majors.
The Australian Open currently under way in Melbourne will pay its men’s and women’s singles champions a record A$2.43 million ($2.5 million) each this year, with early losers getting the biggest raise.
The largest increases are in the first three rounds, which all had at least a 30 percent rise from 2012, Tennis Australia said last month. First-round losers will receive A$27,600, up from A$20,800 in 2012, while prize money for reaching the round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals went up almost 15 percent.
Record 17-time Grand Slam singles champion Roger Federer, the president of the ATP Player Council, said Drewett’s illness was “very sad news for all of us at the ATP and the entire tennis community.”
“He is well liked and respected by everyone and has done a tremendous job in leading the ATP over the past 12 months,” Federer said in the statement. “Our thoughts are with him and his family during this difficult time.”
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