ATP World Tour Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett died today from motor neurone disease, the men’s tennis body said. He was 54.
Drewett, an Australian who took over the job on Jan. 1, 2012, died in Sydney, the tour said today in an e-mailed statement. He started to step down from the post in January, saying he wanted to give the ATP’s board of directors time to look for a successor.
Motor neurone disease causes the degeneration of neuron connections, impeding movement, and most people diagnosed with the illness die within five to 10 years of diagnosis, according to www.motorneuronedisease.org.
“Our thoughts are with Brad’s family on this extremely sad day for them, the ATP and the entire international tennis community,” the men’s tour said today in the statement. “He will be sorely missed by all.”
Francesco Ricci, president of the International Tennis Federation, said in a statement that his group, the world governing body of tennis, was “deeply saddened” by Drewett’s death.
“His knowledge, experience and enthusiasm will be a great loss to the whole sport,” Ricci said. “We send our deepest sympathies to Brad’s family and to everyone at the ATP during this very sad time.”
Drewett was ranked as high as 34th in the world during a 12-year professional tennis career. He had been part of the ATP for more than 35 years, serving as a player council member, player board member, regional chief executive officer and tournament director before succeeding Adam Helfant as the organization’s top executive.
During his 12 months in the job, the ATP negotiated with the four Grand Slam tournaments regarding a more even distribution of prize money that it says will benefit players across all levels of the tour. The ATP also has been fighting for a greater share of revenue generated at the majors.