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ATP chairman Brad Drewett dies at 54; ex-player helped boost Grand Slam prize money

  • c5aacf8ddc0fd00e300f6a70670016c4.jpg

    FILE - Australian Brad Drewett, CEO of Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) International and Tournament Director at the ongoing Tennis Masters Cup, in this file photo dated Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, at Qi Zhong Tennis Center in Shanghai, China. On Friday May 3, 2013, the ATP announced that 54-year old chairman Brad Drewett has died at his home in Sydney, Australia, after a battle with motor neurone disease. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, FILE) (The Associated Press)

  • 69e2c225dc0ed00e300f6a7067001552.jpg

    FILE - Brad Drewett, CEO of Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) International and Tournament Director at the ongoing Tennis Masters Cup, in this file photo dated Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, at Qi Zhong Tennis Center in Shanghai, China. On Friday May 3, 2013, the ATP announced that 54-year old chairman Brad Drewett has died at his home in Sydney, Australia, after a battle with motor neurone disease. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, FILE) (The Associated Press)

Brad Drewett, a former tour player who led the ATP as executive chairman and helped increase prize money at Grand Slam tournaments, died Friday. He was 54.

He had Lou Gehrig's disease, and the governing body of men's tennis said in a statement he died at his home in Sydney.

Drewett was a top-40 singles and top-20 doubles player before he retired in 1990. He was hired in 2006 to lead operations in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific regions. He led the ATP since January 2012.

International Tennis Federation President Francesco Ricci Bitti called Drewett "a valued friend and colleague."

"We were very happy to support him during his various roles at the ATP, most recently as chairman," he said. "His knowledge, experience and enthusiasm will be a great loss to the whole sport."

Players Rafael Nadal and Mardy Fish were among those expressing condolences.

"A very sad day for the world of sports and tennis in particular," Nadal, an 11-time major champion, wrote on Facebook. "Our president Brad has passed away. Rest in peace."

Drewett announced in January he had motor neurone disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The disease affects voluntary muscle activity, including speaking, walking, breathing and swallowing. It usually causes progressive disability.

Drewett's speech was noticeably slurred when he attended a news conference on the opening day of the Australian Open to announce a new sponsor. He had planned to step down once a successor was found.

Drewett also developed and managed a number of successful businesses in the sport and fitness industry. He had worked as a commentator for two Australian television broadcasters.

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