Brad Drewett, a former tour player who led the ATP as executive chairman and helped increase prize money at Grand Slam tournaments, died on Friday after a short battle with motor neurone disease. He was 54.
The ATP said in a statement the Australian died at his home in Sydney.
Mr. 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 Mr. 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.”
David Haggerty, the head of American tennis, described Mr. Drewett as “a strong leader, true gentleman and a great friend.”
Mr. Drewett announced in January he had motor amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease affects voluntary muscle activity, including speaking, walking, breathing and swallowing. It usually causes progressive disability.
Mr. 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.
Mr. 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.
Australian media said Saturday that Mr. Drewett is survived by his wife Joanne and four children- Jack, Ally, Joe and Tom. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.