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ATP chief Drewett dies aged 54

LONDON (Reuters) - Brad Drewett, executive chairman and president of the men's ATP Tour since 2012, died aged 54 on Friday from Motor Neurone Disease, the ATP said in a statement.

Drewett's WTA counterpart Stacey Allaster added: "Brad was an incredibly warm human being and a dedicated family man. He also was always an inspiring leader. Today the entire tennis community mourns the loss of a great friend and colleague.

"Brad's contributions as a player and visionary leader make him one of the greatest in making tennis the popular, worldwide sport it is today. The recent prize money increases with the grand slams are perfect examples of Brad's brilliant strategic management, and another example of how much he cared about our athletes and the sport's long-term growth.

"His legacy as a leader, as a person, and as a father who always put his family first, will have an everlasting impact on tennis."

The Australian former professional, who reached a career-high ranking of 34, was appointed in January 2012 and helped oversee a rise in prize money at grand slam tournaments and a streamlining of the men's calendar.

Drewett announced in January that he intended to step down due to his battle with the neurological disease.

He died at his home in Sydney.

Tributes poured in from players, past and present, at the news that Drewett had succumbed to his illness.

"Today is a very sad day for sport and tennis in particular. Our president Brad has passed away," 11-times grand slam champion Rafael Nadal posted on his website.

Fellow Spaniard and former world number one Carlos Moya added: "Probably the best ATP president, the closest to the players and the one who has achieved the most for the players in the past 30 years."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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