The world’s best tennis player descends on Rome this week. Here, men and women play the same best-of-three sets format, on the same courts and in the same tournaments. He sells one ticket for the same price for both. Men’s game and women’s game.
However, there is one major difference between the two competitions. Men will compete for $8.5 million and women for $3.9 million.
The huge pay discrepancy comes after two months of tennis that included three equally important tournaments in California, Florida and Madrid, where men and women competed for equal prize money. Men and women also receive equal pay at the four Grand Slam tournaments, with the men playing best-of-five and the women playing best-of-three.
But that wasn’t the case at the Italian Open in Rome. And the Western & Southern Open outside Cincinnati hasn’t even happened yet. Canada’s National Bank Open alternates between men’s and women’s events in Toronto and Montreal each year.
Angelo Binaghi, CEO of the Italian Tennis Federation, recently announced that the Italian Open is committed to achieving pay equity by 2025..the next two rounds of this tournament Women feel, well, not so good because women have to do the same work for much lower wages.
“I don’t understand why there is no equality now,” said Paula Badosa, 25, from Spain. “They don’t let us know. They say this is what you get and you have to play.”
A spokesman for the Italian federation did not respond to an interview with Binaghi.
“It’s really frustrating,” said Ons-Jabbar, a two-time Grand Slam finalist last year and the No. 4 seed in Roma, in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s time for change. It’s time for tournaments to be better.”
Steve Simon, chairman and chief executive of the WTA Tour, which organizes the women’s circuit on behalf of tournament owners and athletes, said the difference in prize money favors men’s sports over women, especially when it comes to sponsorship. and media rights. He said the organization is working towards a solution that will strive to achieve fair pay at all of tennis’ biggest events in the coming years.
“We still have a long way to go, but we are making progress,” Simon said in an interview Monday.
The explanations and culprits for how women in tennis continue to change are deep-rooted chauvinism, bad agreements with tournament owners, and the nature of the sports business, where owners, stakeholders and organizers often blame athletes. to blame (not their incompetence) for not generating enough revenue. And they use that as an excuse not to invest in the sport, keeping players’ salaries and prize money low.
In tennis, women often get secondary billing in mixed tournaments. This is a less desirable schedule for smaller courts and possibly even smaller hotels. Last week in Madrid, participants in the women’s doubles final did not get a chance to speak at the awards ceremony. Men did.
Organizers often tell women that they lack the star power of men. At last year’s French Open, tournament director and former world No. 1 singles player Amelie Mauresmo said the men’s match was his nine, while the women’s match was hers at the slot. Only one match was scheduled. ‘ she appeals than the women’s game. she apologized laterbut if second billing could make it harder for women to achieve stardom, this self-fulfilling prophecy could lead to lower wages.
In March, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, currently ranked No. 27, announced: essay The Players Tribune criticized the lack of unity among sports leaders.
“I think some people see gender equality as just political correctness,” Shapovalov wrote. His mother coaches him and his girlfriend Mirjam Björklund (Sweden) plays on the women’s tour. “Deep down, they don’t think women are worth that much.”
The WTA made some unforced errors. Participation of women and men is compulsory in the most important mixed tournaments. The WTA only mandates participation in tournaments in Indian Wells, California. Miami Gardens, Florida; Madrid and Beijing, but not Rome, Canada and Ohio, even though those events are second only to the Grand Slam in importance. Rome, Canada and Ohio will also award slightly less ranking points than the Men’s Tour. The women’s champion receives her 900 points for the men’s 1,000 points.
Despite the fact that nearly all of the top women are in the big optional event unless they are injured, these small differences provide an excuse for tournament officials to pay women much less. But organizers say local sponsors and media companies won’t pay as much because they can’t effectively market their tournaments without compulsory attendance.
When asked recently why the National Bank Open offered $5.9 million to men last year versus $2.53 million to women, Mark-Antoine Farley, spokesman for Tennis Canada, said recently. , cited its differences. Despite these differences, Farley said, “Gender equality is very important to our organization.” He noted that tennis Canada recently announced plans to pursue gender equality at all levels over the next five years and by 2027 the National Bank He announced plans to offer equal prize money in the open. . We are working with the WTA on a development plan to close the prize money gap between the WTA and ATP. ”
Like most aspects of the tennis business, the formula for calculating prize money is somewhat complicated to explain. Tournament owners guarantee a portion of the proceeds from ticket, national media rights and sponsorship sales as prize money. The Tour uses funds from its own media rights and sponsorship deals, as well as fees paid to the Tour by Tournament Owners to license their tournaments, and contributes a portion. Simon said the WTA brings significantly less prize money than the men’s circuit, the ATP Tour, meaning there is significantly less money available to contribute to the prize money.
That said, if equal prize money is important to the tournament owner, they may choose to pay it. That’s what computer tech billionaire Larry Ellison-owned Indian Wells’ BNP his Paribas Open has agreed to do over his decade under contract with the WTA.
“The tournament treats the event as a piece of work,” said tournament spokesman Matt Van Tuinen. “It’s right to pay them equally.”
The same is true for IMG, a sports and entertainment conglomerate that owns both the Miami Open and the Madrid Open. Both pay the same.
The Italian and Canadian tennis federations, as well as the United States Tennis Association, which has long boasted leadership in pay equity, did not award comparable prize money at the US Open’s mainstay, the Western & Southern Open. . Last year, the men entered in Mason, Ohio for $6.28 million. The women contested $2.53 million. The US Open was the first Grand Slam tournament to feature equal prize money in 1973, and this summer will celebrate his 50th anniversary in style. The USTA has run tournaments in the Cincinnati area for over ten years.
The organization’s spokesman, Chris Widmeier, said prize money “will depend on the appropriate level of competition as determined by each tour.”
In other words, because Western & Southern is not a WTA mandatory event and women compete for 10 percent fewer ranking points, it was justified to pay the women about 40 cents for every dollar the men received.
The USTA announced last summer that it would sell the tournament to South Carolina investor and tennis enthusiast Ben Navarro. Through a spokesperson, he declined to be interviewed for this article.
Help may be on the horizon.
Earlier this year, private equity firm CVC Capital Partners purchased 20% of WTA’s commercial subsidiary for $150 million. The investment will be used to enhance sales and marketing efforts and is expected to contribute to the WTA’s revenue growth combined with a strategic plan that is being finalized to close the gap between men’s and women’s competitions in mixed events. there is This will allow the Tour to contribute more to prize money and hopefully get tournament organizers to commit to paying their equity in the coming years.
This plan requires a certain amount of patience, which is lacking among the players.
“I don’t understand why we have to wait,” said Jabbar.