Roger Federer wants Chris Kermode back at ATP after Gimelstob exit
Gimelstob, pictured, resigned from the board of directors at the ATP on 1 May, a move many believe he should have made when he was first charged with assaulting Randall Kaplan last year. Initially pleading not guilty at the preliminary hearings in December, Gimelstob changed that plea to ‘no contest’ at the final hearing in Los Angeles two weeks ago.
That meant that while he did not admit to the crime, he accepted the court was obliged to find him guilty, although the charge was reduced by the judge from a felony to a misdemeanour. That same judge, though, did describe the attack on Kaplan – a friend of Gimelstob’s estranged wife – as a “violent, unprovoked attack in public in front of children” (Kaplan was out trick-or-treating at Halloween with his wife and two-year-old daughter at the time of the assault).
While all of this was going on in the background, the ATP’s player council, led by Novak Djokovic as its president, and the three player representatives on the board of directors, combined to remove Kermode as president of the tour. His contract will not be renewed at the end of this year. It is widely believed that Djokovic and Gimelstob orchestrated the power shift between them.
Now Federer wants Kermode to be given the chance to continue in his role as president of the tour.
“It may be that he should be put back into the mix,” Federer said. “But then again I don’t know if he would want to be after everything that happened. Sometimes when these things happen, it is like OK, I had a good run, and it’s OK to go. I haven’t seen Chris for some time now. I only saw him briefly in Indian Wells and I haven’t spoken to him at all so I don’t know where he stands. I don’t know exactly the process, when the votes are happening, when the new CEO, all this stuff, gets decided.
“And in light of the Justin situation, I think it’s definitely the right move by Justin [to resign]. He needs to go back and figure things out.
“And the Tour needs to keep moving forward in these challenging times. I’m happy that the decision was taken by Justin and that now we can move forward and really learn from what had happened also.”
Federer did try to speak to Djokovic about Kermode’s future back in March before the decision was made to remove him. Djokovic, though, was too busy to discuss the matter. The player council was split 50-50 on whether to keep Kermode on and so left the decision to the board. The three player representatives on the board, of whom Gimelstob was one, voted against the current president.
But the very fact that Gimelstob was involved at all has outraged many players. Andy Murray was the first ‘big name’ to speak out, telling the Sunday Telegraph that he did not see how it was “possible for him [Gimelstob] to remain in a position of authority” while Stan Wawrinka wrote a letter to the Times to express his anger and disgust.
“There is no place in our sport for those who behave like Justin,” Wawrinka wrote. “The lack of responses from people involved in the game, particularly at the beginning of this saga, when he was charged last December, was alarming. This is a situation where silence amounts to complicity.”