The disparity in prize money between the events on the ATP and WTA calendar has been a cause of discussion for a long time. Though the Grand Slams are offering equal prize money to both, male and female tennis players, the difference between them at regular events on the tour is massive.
Venus Williams had always advocated for equal pay and played a vital role in securing the same at Wimbledon. Even Maria Sharapova has joined in the debate and voiced her support in attaining parity over pay issues, though she has retired. But, it looks as if not everyone wants to be on the same page as is evident with Hantuchova who has claimed, “it is what it is,” regarding the prize money of WTA players.
Former tennis star, Daniela Hantuchova has come out in the open to criticize the women tennis stars who would like to earn as much as the men, as “spoiled”. The Slovakian said, “It seems to me a bit like being spoiled. Especially on the women’s circuit, where the prize money is what it is, and the girls are definitely not working from four in the morning somewhere in the mines.” (via Daily Express).
Venus Williams on her fight for equal pay:
“I don’t think any woman should have to worry about if they’re getting paid equal. I’m very happy that no woman again at a Grand Slam has to even concern herself with that. She can just play tennis.” pic.twitter.com/eiboJY4xnc
— The Tennis Letter (@TheTennisLetter) July 4, 2023
Daniela, a 7-time title winner stated, “It’s tough, but we never allowed ourselves to criticize because we knew the cheques we were getting were because of the tournament.” But, regarding scheduling demands, she was more with the players adding, “Regarding travel and the destinations in which WTA tournaments are played, on the contrary, I agree with the players.”
There has been a marked difference in pay even at the biggest tournaments this year. This was highlighted by Sharapova when she cited the example of the recently concluded event in China where the prize cheque of men was $1.2 million while that of women stood at $120,000.
Equal pay at Grand Slams and how other events can emulate
The US Open of 2023 was the 50th edition of the tournament which offered equal pay, with a total purse of $65 million which is a record in itself. It also completes the 17th season of equal pay at all four Grand Slams, whereas the same cannot be said for the other events that are organized by the respective associations.
A new Tour calendar and a pathway to equal prize money.
Welcome to a new era for women’s tennis 🙌
— wta (@WTA) June 27, 2023
The women’s game is on the rise and looking to make progress, but still has a lot of ground to cover. The two renowned tuneups for the US Open, which are the Canadian Open and Cincinnati Masters, both offer a prize pool of $2.8 million for women while the stakes for men were at $6.6 million.
This season, the WTA’s Silicon Valley Classic and the ATP’s Citi Open merged to form the “DC Open”, to become the only combined event at the 500-level so as to pave the way for a future with equal pay. In June, the WTA made a formal address that the combined 1000- and 500-level events will provide equal pay by 2027 while all non-combined 1000- and 500-level events will be implementing the same by 2033.
According to WTA president, Micky Lawler, the investment of $150 million by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners in the sport will “accelerate” the plans of offering equal pay. Perhaps, the best solution could be for the two associations to join forces and make an “inevitable” merger. But, he was quick to add that, how and when the merger will take place are “two million dollar questions.”