India’s Sravya Shivani Chilakalapudi stands for reelection on ITF Women’s Player Panel; read how to vote

Sravya Shivani Chilakalapudi

One of India’s top 15 players in both singles and doubles – 23-year-old Sravya Shivani Chilakalapudi is up for re-election for player panels on the ITF World Tennis Tour. We spoke to her about her plans if she is chosen to represent her fellow professional tennis players again.


1. Sravya, your tenure on the ITF Players Panel has been marked by many ups including educating players, especially with Instagram handle @itfwttplayers. How do you plan to build on this experience to further enhance the representation and welfare of tennis players worldwide if re-elected?
SSC: I have always felt that communication is key in almost every situation. I was keen to make sure that players stayed informed of their rights and the rules so that they could navigate the tour with ease. Most of the older players have had to figure out the tour while playing it without much external help so I wanted to make sure that the next generation of players don’t go through the same struggles. That’s how I came up with the idea for the itfwttplayers page. With the guidance of the ITF and the support of my fellow panel member Sabastiani Leon, I have run the page (successfully I hope) for more than half a year now. The aim is to keep the players updated and informed about the key issues and changes constantly happening on tour as well as be a convenient channel for open communication, somewhat like the middleman between the players and the ITF. And of course, try and keep it fun and entertaining as well.

2. As a representative on the ITF Players Panel, player advocacy is crucial. How do you envision strengthening the communication channels between players and the ITF to address their concerns and ensure their voices are heard effectively?
SSC: As a player representative, speaking on behalf of the players is the most important role. Most people assume that the panel doesn’t do much or that the ITF doesn’t care or listen. On the contrary, the ITF does hear us (the panel) out all the time. They really do want to know the players’ perspective and how they can help improve our lives.

The important thing is that the players speak up. And reach out to the panel members, or even email the ITF directly. If you don’t ask you won’t know. Plus with the itfwttplayers page, it’s as easy as dropping a text, we’ve tried our best to resolve most issues immediately and will try to keep doing so.

3. Diversity and inclusion are essential in fostering a global tennis community. How do you plan to champion these values within the ITF Players Panel to ensure that players from all backgrounds feel represented and supported, especially for the Asia/Oceania region?
SSC: As an Asian, representing such a large and diverse group of players, is quite the task. Especially post-COVID with the drop in tournaments in Asia, it was important to bring to light the financial difficulties, visa disadvantages and other barriers that Asian players struggle with. I think it is important to try to keep levelling the playing field for the Asian players.

I am always easy to contact and ready to help and I hope to improve whatever needs improving as long as the players reach out to me. I don’t claim to understand all the players’ issues, but I’m willing to learn.

4. Player well-being is a top priority. In what ways do you intend to collaborate with the ITF and other stakeholders to address issues related to player health, mental well-being, and overall welfare during your next term on the Players Panel?
SSC: With the help of the ITF, and through the itfwttplayers page, we have tried to educate players not only about rules and regulations but also about the ITIA, we collaborated with the health consultant of the ITF, and hope to work further on similar issues and topics to educate the players about the safeguards available to them, the basics of physical health and also mental health. Most of this information is available to the WTA community and our goal is to provide similar standards to the ITF players as the ATP and WTA tours.

5. Building a strong foundation for tennis begins at the grassroots level. How do you propose to promote and support grassroots development programs, especially in regions where tennis may be underrepresented, to encourage the growth of the sport worldwide?

SSC: In an ideal world, with the right sponsors and proper funding, having more tournaments and better prize money at the lower levels would benefit the sport. Better visibility and more promotion for women’s sports would also definitely help, all of these things are slowly getting better but we have a long way to go before we see any real change but it’s important to keep at it.

Snapshot of achievements of current player panels according to Chilakalapudi 

About ITF World Tennis Tour Player Panels

The ITF World Tennis Tour comprises two player panels, one dedicated to women’s tennis led by Mary Pierce and another for men’s tennis chaired by Mark Woodforde. Each panel consists of up to seven playing members and a coach, all elected by their peers. In order to promote diverse representation, a regional limit of two players per region is enforced on both the women’s and men’s tennis panels. Additionally, there are restrictions on the number of players in the top-ranking category on each panel. The women’s tennis panel allows a maximum of three players with WTA rankings between No. 151-300 in singles or doubles, while the men’s tennis panel permits a maximum of two players with ATP rankings between No. 351-500 in singles or doubles.

How To Vote

If you are a ranked player, anticipate receiving an email from the International Tennis Federation (ITF) outlining the necessary steps for casting your vote. Your participation in this crucial process is vital for the selection of representatives who will contribute to the decision-making and governance within the ITF Players Panel. Keep a lookout for the email communication from ITF and follow the instructions provided to ensure your voice is heard in shaping the future of the tennis community.

This interview was conducted via WhatsApp on Thursday, 16 November 2023.

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Abhijeet Dangat is a lawyer and writer who loves playing, watching and discussing tennis. He has lived in India, France and the United Kingdom and has travelled across the world, many times witnessing sports history being made.

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