A feeling of exasperation has emanated again after the massive disparity in the total purse of this year's Western & Southern Open - a combined 1000 tournament category, which featured the same 56-player draw across the men's and women's field, in addition to this being a best-of-3 format event.
Djokovic banked a cool $1,019,335 in prize money after outlasting Carlos Alcaraz in an epic final that lasted nearly four hours to win a record-extending 39th Masters title. 19-year-old Gauff, who defeated Karolina Muchova a few hours earlier in the women's final, collected a paycheck amounting to $454,500 - equating to just 44% of what the Serbian earned.
Equal prize money in tennis has been and continues to be a contentious topic that has raged for far too long. Outside the four Grand Slams and a select Masters 1000 tournaments (Indian Wells, Miami, and Madrid), women earn significantly less than their male counterparts in many tournaments at the Tour level.
It's not the first time this season that the issue has been revisited. In Rome, which is a combined 1000-level tournament, there was a substantial difference in the total purse between the two Tours of nearly $5 million with the tournament going on record promising equal pay by 2025.
The WTA has put plans in place to tackle the issue of pay disparity and hopes to update next year's schedule and revamp prize money. In the new proposal, WTA players are expected to receive equal prize money at WTA 1000 and 500 combined events by 2027.
But bridging the gap will be a gradual process and one-week WTA 1000 and 500 tournaments won't have equal prize money until 2033. The WTA intends to shake up the schedule next year by increasing the 1000 category to 10 tournaments with the addition of one-week events - Doha, Dubai, and a yet-to-be-named event.