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Tennis officials like to view their sport as a meritocracy. Great talent, it seems, can emerge from anywhere and then rise through head-to-head competition.
But the truth is that inequalities and special privileges abound, and as a new season begins in earnest with the 2018 Australian Open, the timing seems right to launch this year’s wish list by lobbying for an end to one of the game’s most unnecessary perks.
Reciprocal wild cards between Grand Slam nations might be a present-day symbol of the solidarity among the most prestigious tournaments, but they are also an outdated symbol of elitism in a sport where the barriers to entry are already high. And yet the practice continues with the Australian Open, French Open and United States Open exchanging singles wild cards (Wimbledon, to its credit, has not joined).
A place in the main draw at a major is increasingly lucrative. First-round losers at this year’s Australian Open will earn $60,000 Australian dollars (about $47,000 United States dollars), more than double the 2013 figure.
Source: The New York Times