The Next Gen ATP finals might have been designed to celebrate the future of tennis, but their regressive tournament ceremony left many fans puzzled.
The Next Gen series is an eight-man competition which pits the world’s top 21-and-under singles players, plus an Italian wild card, against one another in two round-robin groups of four, with semi-finals and a final following to determine the best young tennis player on the planet.
In order to determine the groups, though, Next Gen organisers asked the players to select their favourite from a group of female models, each of whom had an A or B category hidden on their body.
Each player then marched his chosen model down a catwalk, before she revealed her letter to the cameras.
The under-21 players would then select the letter, and walk arm in arm down the catwalk with the female models.
Tournament attendees reacted in disgust to the ceremony, which they have branded as “wildly sexist and inappropriate.”
Some of the players were said to be “clearly uncomfortable.”
“Why a tournament that is meant to be focused on the future of tennis would choose to regress in that manner is truly beyond me?” said sports journalist Reem Abulleil.
“Who thought it would be a good idea to handle the draw that way? And what kind of message are they sending to the young fans they are trying to attract to the sport?” she added.
The Next Gen ATP finals are taking place for the first time this year in at the Fiera Milano in Milan.
The new tournament is designed to give the tennis players of the future a chance to battle it out for the world’s under 21s title.
The tournament, which begins tomorrow, will see the world’s top seven 21-and-under singles players, plus an Italian wild card, go head to head, and the winner will take home a prize pot of £960,000.
Considering the criticism, however, it looks like the tournament might have to rethink its slogan “the future is now”.
Images: Reem Abulleil, Ben Rothenberg and ATP