Tennis enthusiasts worldwide have expressed disappointment and disbelief following the release of a promotional poster by Sky Sports, which has sparked controversy due to the exclusion of several top-ranked players. The poster, heralding a new era for the channel’s exclusive tennis coverage, features notable names from the sport, yet glaringly omits prominent figures like Aryna Sabalenka and Daniil Medvedev.
The upheaval erupted after Sky Sports announced an extensive five-year agreement with the ATP and WTA Tours, securing exclusive broadcasting rights across several European regions, including the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, along with non-exclusive rights in select areas.
The deal pledges an impressive coverage of over 4000 tennis matches spanning 80 tournaments each season, commencing in 2024. Encompassing an array of events, from the ATP and WTA year-end championships to the Next Gen ATP Finals and various 250s, 500s, and Masters 1000s tournaments, the agreement aims to bring a comprehensive tennis experience to viewers.
To herald this monumental partnership, Sky Sports released a promotional poster featuring an ensemble of tennis stars, headlined by World No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek. However, the absence of Belarusian powerhouse Aryna Sabalenka, along with Russian talents Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, both residing within the top 5 of their respective rankings, raised eyebrows among fans and pundits alike.
The exclusion of these prominent figures triggered a wave of discontent among tennis enthusiasts, who took to social media, to express their dismay. One fan expressed astonishment, remarking, “No Aryna Sabalenka or any Russian players, but hey, there’s the superstar Burrage. Also, Gauff being 1/3 of the poster… lord help us all cause the Wimbledon is gonna be unbearable and mind you, it already was this year ffs.”
No Aryna or any Russian players but hey there’s the superstar burrage. Also Gauff being 1/3 of the poster…. lord help us all cause the Wimbledon is gonna be unbearable and mind you it already was this year ffs https://t.co/VAGaAf86Dm
— K (@roses_forehand) November 24, 2023
Furthermore, concerns were voiced regarding the perceived imbalance in prominence given to certain players. Fans pointed out the apparent disparity in featuring World No. 3 Coco Gauff and World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz more prominently than the top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek. Another fan shared their apprehension, stating, “Looking at this poster… I fear for the quality of it Alcaraz and Gauff being shown more prominently than Djokovic and Swiatek (both ATP and WTA number 1, respectively). No Sabalenka (WTA number 2), and no Medvedev (ATP number 3). Good luck tennis fans.”
Looking at this poster… I fear for the quality of it
*Alcaraz and Gauff being shown more prominently than Djokovic and Swiatek (both ATP and WTA number 1, respectively). No Sabalenka (WTA number 2), and no Medvedev (ATP number 3). Good luck tennis fans
— George Aires (@GeorgeAires) November 24, 2023
The backlash continued with numerous fans expressing their disappointment at the oversight, underscoring the significance of featuring top-ranked players in promotional materials for an inclusive representation of the sport.
Embarrassing that they still put censorship over Sabalenka, Medvedev, Rublev due to the Ukraine – Russia war while their country is openly aiding, abetting and supporting a genocide which has now killed more people in just 6 weeks compared to Russias invasion of 8 months. https://t.co/5kGlfsfwdy
— Raiyan (@NovakDjokerFans) November 24, 2023
Sky Sports’ promotional poster, intended to celebrate the channel’s forthcoming tennis coverage, has inadvertently sparked controversy and prompted discussions on the criteria for player inclusion. As anticipation builds for the comprehensive coverage promised by Sky Sports, the controversy surrounding the poster serves as a stark reminder of the diverse perspectives and expectations within the vibrant tennis community.
Novak Djokovic in 2023
Currently, during this year Novak has achieved an overall 56-7 record. The Serbian clinched 7 titles in 2023 in Adelaide, Australian Open, French Open, Cincinnati, U.S. Open, Paris and the Nitto ATP Finals. Novak was the runner-up in Wimbledon.
Carlos Alcaraz in 2023
This year the Spaniard has a composed 65-12 record. The Spaniard clinched 6 titles in 2023 in Buenos Aires, Indian Wells, Barcelona, Madrid, London and Wimbledon. Alcaraz was the finalist in Rio de Janeiro and Cincinnati.
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz faced off 5 times. Their actual record is 3-2 for Djokovic. The last time they locked horns, Novak Djokovic won 6-3 6-2 in the semifinal in Turin (Nitto ATP Finals) on the 18th of November 2023.
In the following video you can watch the key moments of their match.
Aryna Sabalenka in 2023
Presently, during this year Sabalenka has a 55-14 record. The Belarussian has won 3 titles in 2023 in Adelaide, Australian Open and Madrid. Sabalenka was the runner-up in Indian Wells, in Stuttgart and at the U.S. Open.