American business mogul Larry Ellison has backed the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) reform plan for the Davis Cup by stating he will become an investor in the project.
Ellison, co-founder, executive chairman and chief technology officer of computer technology group Oracle, has also stated his support for the Indian Wells Tennis Garden facility to become a potential host for the 2021 edition of the new-look national team competition.
Ellison owns the Indian Wells centre, which hosts annual top-tier events on the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours. Concerning the Davis Cup, he said: “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.”
The news comes ahead of a key vote on the reform plans. At the weekend, the ITF moved to reject criticism over an apparent lack of transparency over the plans, adding that the new-look national team competition will provide long-term benefits to players, nations and sponsors.
In February, the ITF hailed a major $3bn (€2.56bn) partnership with investment group Kosmos that is set to introduce a new annual season-ending national team tournament and realise long-held plans to transform the Davis Cup.
The 25-year contract with Kosmos, a European-based holding company focused on building a global portfolio of media and sports assets, will seek to revamp the historic competition and generate substantial revenues for global tennis development.
The ITF Board of Directors has unanimously endorsed a proposal to create a major new annual season-ending World Cup of Tennis Finals that will crown the Davis Cup champions. Featuring 18 nations and played over one week in a single location in November, the event will be staged by Kosmos in partnership with the ITF.
The plans are to be submitted to the ITF Annual General Meeting, to be held from August 13-16 in Orlando, Florida, with a two-thirds majority required for final approval. However, Tennis Australia, which is backing a rival competition launched by men’s body the ATP, said in a strongly worded letter that it planned to “vote against the proposed amendments” because the reform process has been “far from transparent”.
Continental body Tennis Europe is also opposing the plans, but the ITF has pointed to strong backing from three of the four organisers of the sport’s grand slam events – the All England Lawn and Tennis Club (AELTC), French Tennis Federation (FFT) and United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Kosmos was founded and is chaired by Gerard Piqué, the Barcelona and Spain football star, and is backed by Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten.
Commenting on Ellison’s support, Piqué said: “We are very pleased and proud to join forces and 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.”