American billionaire Larry Ellison pledges support for Davis Cup revamp
American businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Larry Ellison has pledged his support to the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) grand plans to revamp the…
The 73-year-old also hopes that the Indian Wells Tennis facility, owned by him since 2009, is chosen as the host venue for the 2021 edition of the all-new-look event. Based near Palm Springs, California, it is the second largest tennis-specific arena in the world that includes a 16,100-seater Stadium 1 court.
“I am very excited about the new format that the ITF and Kosmos have developed for the Davis Cup and am in full support of the plans that have been outlined for this historic competition,” Ellison was quoted as saying by the Desert Sun website.
“I readily embrace innovative ideas and opportunities which is why I am not only lending my written support, but will also become an investor in this competition. In addition, I am thrilled that the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is being considered to host 18 national teams and their associations in the new Davis Cup Finals event in 2021.”
Elisson is the co-founder, executive chairman and chief technology officer of Oracle Corporation. As of June 2018, he was listed by Forbes magazine as the fifth-wealthiest person in the United States and as the eighth-wealthiest in the world, with a fortune of $54.5 billion.
Elisson also owns Indian Wells Masters tournament, also known as BNP Paribas Open and the WTA Indian Wells Open.
The ITF announced earlier this year that it had signed a 25-year, US$3 billion deal with Gerard Piqué’s Kosmos investment group to transform the 118-year-old men’s competition into an 18-team, one-week season finale that will help generate substantial revenues for global tennis development.
The ITF Board of Directors unanimously have endorsed the proposal to create a major new annual season-ending World Cup of Tennis Finals that will crown the Davis Cup champions. The event will be staged by Kosmos in partnership with the ITF.
Kosmos group is also backed by Hiroshi Mikitani, the Chairman and CEO of Tokyo-based e-commerce giant Rakuten.
Gerard Piqué, founder and president of Kosmos, has welcomed Ellison’s move. The 31-year-old Barcelona centre-back wrote on Twitter: “I personally want to publicly welcome Mr Ellison to this project. We are pleased and proud to have him financially backing our commitment for boosting and reinforcing the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas.”
“The agreement reassures the sustainability and ambition of our engagement together with the ITF and I know it will be welcomed as a positive announcement for the global tennis community,” Pique added further.
The Davis Cup overhaul plans are subject to final ratification by member associations ITF Annual General Meeting slated from August 13-16 in Orlando, Florida, with a two-thirds majority. If approved, the tournament would be due to start in November 2019.
The move has till now received mixed reactions from the national associations around the global. Tennis Australia forged a partnership this year with ATP to announce the return of World’s Team Cup event to the men’s calender.
ITF was irked by the Australian Tennis body who said that it has planned to vote against the proposed amendments to the Davis Cup because the reform process has been “far from transparent.” The plans were also opposed by Tennis Europe.
ITF has, however, claimed a strong backing from three of the four organisers of the grand slam events – the All England Lawn and Tennis Club (AELTC), French Tennis Federation (FFT) and United States Tennis Association (USTA).