'Only 15-20% Of The Tour Is Equal': Sharapova Questions Pay Inequity In Tennis

'Only 15-20% Of The Tour Is Equal': Sharapova Questions Pay Inequity In Tennis

by Nurein Ahmed

Former WTA No. 1 Maria Sharapova joined the loud choir calling for equal prize money on the tennis tour at all tournament levels.

For many years now, the raging debate of whether women and men should earn equal has not hit an exclamation point. Only at the four Grand Slam events and select Masters/WTA 1000 tournaments is the prize money purse the same.

The 500-level and 250-level categories have massive disparities in pay on the ATP and WTA sides. This has not been very noticeable, largely because tournaments at that level don't have widespread credibility in terms of marketing and broadcasting rights, according to Sharapova.

The 36-year-old Russian spoke in an interview at the second annual UNMATCHED: Gender Equity in Sports Conference during her trip to Toronto, Canada last month, which was published very recently. Sharapova opined that at the early phase of her career, she was a newbie on Tour and had little knowledge of money matters.

"When I was exposed to that question and the subject, as a teenager, I didn’t really have a strong opinion because I wasn’t around that much. I didn’t quite understand why that was even such a topic, because I would wake up in the morning and just wanted to be the best version of myself."

But the issue of prize money has always been a hot topic not just from the viewpoint of journalists, but female players too. While sporadic progress has been made, with the WTA Tour revealing the pathway to achieve equal prize money at combined WTA 1000 and 500 events by 2027, Sharapova questioned what happens to the rest of the lower-level tournaments.

"And yes, 15-20 percent of the tour is equal. But where’s the rest of the 80 percent? It’s not even close to being equal. Unfortunately, those events don’t have the biggest media rights, they don’t have the visibility, so therefore, that subject of equality doesn’t even get a platform because not too many people know internationally [that] these tournaments exist."


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