By then, Gimelstob already was on his way from Los Angeles to Spain to inform Novak Djokovic in person on Tuesday of his decision to resign. Djokovic, the world No. 1 and president of the ATP Player Council, was preparing in southern Spain for next week’s Mutua Madrid Open. He has become one of Gimelstob’s leading allies in tennis, and they worked closely together to defeat Chris Kermode in March in Kermode’s unsuccessful attempt to extend his contract as the ATP’s executive chairman and president. The ATP Player Council was deeply divided on that issue, which was ultimately decided by a vote of the board.
“I wanted to look Novak in the eye, and the two most important things I wanted to say were first thank you and second to apologize,” Gimelstob said.
Gimelstob has been the representative for the Americas on the ATP board since 2008. He is one of three representatives elected by the player council. The tournaments also have three representatives on the board, and there is often internal tension between those groups as the players seek greater influence, prize money and benefits and the tournaments seek to control costs and the calendar.
Gimelstob has been considered a fierce advocate for the players as they secured significant prize-money increases from the four Grand Slam tournaments and the tour’s other top-tier events. Though Gimelstob’s highest ranking as a singles player was No. 63 in 1999, he rose to become one of the most influential figures in the sport as an executive, on-air analyst for Tennis Channel and a coach and adviser to John Isner, the top 10 player from the United States.
Multiple roles are not unusual in tennis, but few have worn as many hats and juggled as many conflicts of interest as Gimelstob. He took leave from the Tennis Channel after his arrest and said he did not expect to return to commentary duties in the near future but did not rule out coaching or working in tennis in some other capacity.
“Right now I need to step away and need to regroup and need to heal and need to not be the story,” Gimelstob said. “I should not be the story. I don’t deserve to be the story. Contrary to people’s belief in my desire to be the story, I do not want to be the story, certainly not this way.”
There are several candidates for his vacated board seat, including Brad Gilbert, 57, and Tim Mayotte, 58, who are both former top 10 players from the United States. Mayotte, who has a tennis academy in Concord, Mass., is a former player council president who once served in the Americas board seat. He said he was inspired to re-enter the tennis political arena after seeing how “caustic” it had become.