Prominent members of the tennis community have been quick to show their support for Brad Drewett, who will resign from his position as ATP Executive Chairman and President following his diagnosis with motor neurone disease.
“It has been a privilege to serve as Executive Chairman and President of the ATP, an organisation that I’ve been a part of for more than 35 years since I became a professional tennis player,” said Drewett, who will continue in his current role on an interim basis as the search for his successor begins. “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.”
The 54-year-old Drewitt was appointed to the ATP’s top role little more than a year ago and was an influential figure in recent player prize money discussions. Roger Federer, President of the ATP Player Council, was among those to voice his thoughts. “Brad has become a good friend of mine over the years and this is very sad news for all of us at the ATP and the entire tennis community,” Federer said in a statement.
“He is well liked and respected by everyone and has done a tremendous job in leading the ATP over the past 12 months, overseeing some major initiatives and a record-breaking year in 2012. “
A top-40 singles and top 20 doubles player in the 1980s, Drewett has been part of the ATP for more than 35 years, encompassing roles as a player, ATP Player Council member, ATP Player Board member, as CEO of the International Region and Tournament Director of the ATP’s season-ending event from 2001 to 2011.
The highly-respected Australian is also the mastermind of several important commercial deals on the ATP Tour, including one with the Shanghai Municipal Government to stage the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai from 2003 until 2005.
Tennis Australia leaders expressed sadness about Drewett’s ill health. “Brad's incredible contribution to the game in Australia and worldwide is obvious to all,” said Tennis Australia President Steve Healy and CEO Steve Wood in a joint statement.
“For more than three decades he has been a much loved member of the Australian tennis family. All of our thoughts are very much with Brad and his family at this time.”
Stacey Allaster, Drewett’s counterpart on the WTA Tour, was similarly supportive. "The thoughts and prayers of the WTA family are with Brad, his family and the entire ATP community at this very difficult time," she said. "We know he will fight this terrible disease every step of the way, and have our full support for whatever he needs."
As the Australian Open continued at Melbourne Park, members of the Grand Slam Committee also shared their thoughts. “The Grand Slam tournaments are saddened to learn of Brad’s condition and everyone sends their prayers and any support needed to him and his family during this difficult period. Brad’s longstanding commitment to the sport marks him as a true member of our tennis family and we wish him well in the fight ahead,” said Bill Babcock, the Director of the Grand Slam Committee.