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Novak Djokovic Says Pickleball Is Making Tennis an ‘Endangered’ Sport

Tennis star Novak Djokovic is worried about his beloved sport.

Djokovic, 37, told reporters that “tennis is endangered” after his Centre Court win at Wimbledon 2024 on Saturday, July 6. “If we don’t do something about it, globally or collectively, paddle — pickleball in the States — they’re gonna convert all the tennis clubs into paddle and pickleball,” the athlete told reporters after his match, according to X account @TheTennisLetter.

Earlier in the press conference, Djokovic shared his thoughts on the state of tennis as a whole, saying he thinks the  sport needs improvements to grow its audience.

“Tennis, on one hand, is in a good place, but at the same time, when we look at Formula 1 for example and what they’ve done in terms of marketing, in terms of growth of the sport — in terms of the races around the world and how popular they are — I think we need to do a better job on our respective tours,” he said.

Novak Djokovic Says Pickleball Is Making Tennis ‘Endangered’: ‘We All Have to Come Together’
Novak Djokovic. Matt King/Getty Images
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The Serbian athlete noted that “we are lucky to be very historic and a very global sport,” adding, “I think there’s a huge space for growth. We’re quite fractioned as a sport.”

“There are quite a bit of things for us to collectively look at and try to improve it,” he continued. “We need to grow the number of players that live from this sport.”

Novak Djokovic Says Pickleball Is Making Tennis ‘Endangered’: ‘We All Have to Come Together’
Shi Tang/Getty Images

Djokovic also explained that pickleball — despite tennis being the “king or queen of all racquet sports” — is more “economical” for club owners, which persuades them to make choices based on money.

“You can build three paddle courts on one tennis court,” he said. “Do the simple math. It’s just much more financially viable for the owner of the club to have those courts.”

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He added, “In the grand scheme of things, we need to address all these challenges and issues. Because they’ve been out there for a while. I don’t think we’ve been addressing it in the proper way.”

On Saturday, Djokovic defeated Alexei Popyrin to move on to Wimbledon’s Round of 16, continuing his quest for an eighth Wimbledon title, which would tie him with Roger Federer for the most in history.

Djokovic is currently the world No. 2 men’s singles player. He holds a record 24 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, including a record 10 Australian Open titles.

At age 20 in 2008, he broke the streak of Rafael Nadal and Federer — who had 11 consecutive majors — by securing his first major title at the Australian Open.

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