Headline Tennis

Wimbledon Field Boasts Many Different Representatives

A recent article in the New York Times by Christopher Clarey highlights this year’s Wimbledon draw and the management firms that represent these star players. IMG/WME is a powerful company representing many tennis players, men’s and women’s, and after the 2013 merger boasts an impressive combined client roster. Its competitors, Lagadere Unlimited and Octagon, each boast clients in this year’s tournament, but are these mega-agencies still the most powerful when it comes to individual sports such as tennis and golf?

The 2015 Wimbledon Tournament is currently underway.
The 2015 Wimbledon Tournament is currently underway.

IMG owns multiple tennis tournaments, including the Miami Open. While executives are interested in acquiring more tournaments, the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour limits the number of tournaments that a single company can own to four. With owning these tournaments and representing a large amount of players who compete in them, a conflict of interest arises: increasing prize money that benefits players working with an agency could hinder the profits at tournaments owned by the same agency. Additionally, IMG has had employees on both the board of directors of the men’s and women’s tours.

To counter this, many superstar athletes are leaving their large agencies after their agent starts his or her own boutique agency. The most notable tennis player who did this is Roger Federer and agent Tony Godsick of Team8. “I had a great 20 years at IMG, but as Roger’s career boomed, his interests were increasingly in conflict with the interests of IMG as a while. I left to start my own firm when it became clear that I would have to frequently choose between what was best for Roger and what was best for IMG. That tension is not anyone’s fault. It’s just inevitable when a company in our business tries to do it all. And I think this is why you see a trend of iconic athletes gravitating away from mega-agencies,” said Godsick when asked about Federer and starting Team8.

As agencies continue to be one-stop shops when it comes to client representation, boutique agencies continue to pop up and represent superstar clients. The shift from mega-agency to boutique agency as one’s career progresses is an interesting thing to watch as an aspiring agent.