Maria Sharapova’s tennis superagent has been reprimanded by the head of the WTA Tour for his condemnation of leading stars Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska as ‘journeyman players’.
Max Eisenbud, the American who represents Sharapova, received a stern talking to from women’s tour Chief Executive Steve Simon, according to senior WTA sources.
However, he has not been charged with breaching circuit rules, despite his comments about the former world No 1 and 2 appearing to be a breach of the WTA’s Code of Conduct.
Max Eisenbud (right, with Lindsay Davenport), agent of Maria Sharapova, has been reprimanded over comments against Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska
Most surprising about his remarks is that Radwanska is a fellow client of IMG, the global management giant that also represents Sharapova, who makes her comeback today.
However, the 2012 Wimbledon finalist from Poland earns nothing like the money of Sharapova, who with the skilful help of Eisenbud has become consistently the world’s highest-grossing female athlete.
Yesterday Simon confirmed that he had spoken to Eisenbud about his comments. Asked whether he had reminded the Russian’s manager of his responsibilities he replied ‘Yes’.
Simon was reluctant to get into specifics but told Sportsmail: ‘We have definitely taking care of it internally,’ adding that he considered it ‘the end of the matter’.
At the weekend Eisenbud gave a statement to American tennis writer Ben Rothenberg, hitting back at the two stars, who disapproved of his player getting a French Open wildcard. He suggested their motive was to boost their own chances of winning in Paris.
Eisenbud (top left) hugs Russian star Sharapova following her Wimbledon victory in 2004
‘All those ‘journeyman’ players like Radwanska and Wozniacki who have never won a Slam and the next generation passing them,’ he said.
‘They are smart to try and keep Maria out of Paris. NO Serena, NO Maria, No Vika (Azarenka), NO Petra, it’s their last chance to win a Slam.’
He added that they had ‘no clue’, asserting that they had not read the judgements relating to the Russian’s fifteen-month doping suspension.
The insulting outburst appears to contravene the WTA rulebook Code of Conduct section H, clause C ii which reads: ‘Player Support Team members shall not engage in abusive conduct, either physical or verbal, or threatening conduct or language directed towards any Player, Tournament official, WTA staff member, on-court official, coach, parent, spectator or member of the press/media.’
Radwanska’s IMG agent, Scotsman Stuart Duguid, declined to comment.
Caroline Wozniacki was one of the star players Eisenbud suggested was a ‘journeyman’
However, there is reported to be upheaval behind the scenes at the agency and one of its leading tennis agents (not Duguid) is said to have resigned in recent weeks.
Britain’s Heather Watson is an IMG client who went ‘off-message’ and while playing at the Miami Open criticised the awarding of wildcards to Sharapova.
The fallout from Eisenbud’s remarks has also spread into the ranks of the male players represented by the company.
Steven Edmund, the father of world No 42 and rising GB star Kyle Edmund, was clearly unimpressed and took to Twitter at the weekend to express his displeasure.
He tweeted: ‘@IMGTennis agent Eisenbud – No slam and you’re a journeyman. @IMGTennis where do you stand?’
Radwanska reacted angrily to Eisenbud’s remarks after her loss in Stuttgart
Bruno Soares, Jamie Murray’s doubles partner, was also displeased with the comments, tweeting: ‘Radwanska and Wozniacki are journeyman? Wowwwww. So if you never won a slam that’s what you are? Very kind words from Mr Eisenbud. #img’
A clearly unhappy Radwanska responded to the jibes last night by saying, ‘Who is Max? Who is this guy? That’s my comment.’
There will be no chance of the world No 8 letting her racket do the talking in a possible second round match against Sharapova because she lost 6-2 6-4 to another Russian, Ekaterina Makarova.