ATP supremo De Villiers to step down

Other News Materials 21 August 2008 22:38 (UTC +04:00)

Embattled ATP supremo Etienne de Villiers will not renew his contract and is set to leave his position at the end of the year, the men's sanctioning body confirmed on Thursday, dpa reported.

"ET," as the former Euro Disney executive preferred to be called, had been under fire over the past year due to a radical re-vamp of the 2009 tournament schedule and for the long-running match-fixing probe into the game which has yielded little save minor sanctions for minor players.

The South African was recruited in June 2005. Among recent critics of the 2009 calendar changes were the top three players in the world, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, all now members of the Players' Council.

"I believe we have delivered the biggest modernisation of the ATP Tour since its inception, have attracted unprecedented levels of investment into men's tennis and have begun to feed the growing appetite for men's tennis globally, both in established and emerging markets," said de Villiers in a statement.

"I'm incredibly proud of what the Board and my dedicated team have achieved for men's tennis and I am honoured to have played a part in taking our great sport to the next level.

"Now that this much needed change has been realised I believe this is the right time for someone new to build on this strong platform.

"I leave knowing, without doubt, that finally our players, tournaments and above all our fans have the foundations of a world class sport they truly deserve."

De Villiers and his legal team won a key victory in a Delaware court last month in a restraint of trade lawsuit brought by the Hamburg event, which will be downgraded from an elite Masters Series tournament and its date changed from May to July 2009.

He testified in that trial. Had the ATP lost, the entire structure of men's tennis would have been completely overturned for 2009.

De Villiers said he will assist the ATP board in working to find his successor.