WTA Faces Player Rebellion As Top Stars Request Better Pay & Playing Conditions

WTA Faces Player Rebellion As Top Stars Request Better Pay & Playing Conditions

by Nurein Ahmed

Less than a month ago, it was reported that a high number of Top 20 players table a formal letter to the WTA with a list of demands.

Chief among those demands was the subject of prize money and improvement in players' welfare. The report has been verified by the Athletic who confirmed that a three-page document, single-spaced letter was ratified by at least 20 of the leading WTA players.

World No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka together with Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Marketa Vondrousova led the revolt by affixing their signatures following meetings held in the early days of October at the China Open.

Some of these players have joined Novak Djokovic's breakaway players' union, PTPA, and requested in the letter to the WTA for it to be formally recognized on the WTA Player Board through a representative, in order "to improve transparency and communication."

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur was also among those championing better pay and the letter ends with an ultimatum of feedback from the women's governing body addressing the issues stated by October 13. The spokesperson of World No. 2 Iga Swiatek confirmed that the Pole sent her own letter to the WTA advocating for the same agenda.

In the letter which was signed by a host of leading women's players, they are pushing for guaranteed minimum pay, which would be in line with the ATP's new initiative that is expected to kick off in 2024.

As the Atheltic reports, the players are calling for a pay structure whereby the WTA tour will cover the difference for the Top 250 players who do not earn a certain amount during a season. They proposed for the Top 100 players to be paid $500,000. Those between 101 and 175 earn $200,000 and lastly, the 176 and 250 bands receive $100,000.

Furthermore, WTA players have expressed solidarity in condemning the playing conditions on tour, ranging from poor scheduling, compact calendar, and the state of the playing surface. The WTA Finals in Cancun has been far from a thrilling experience for the players.

Sabalenka made her feelings clear following her first match. Likewise, Rybakina complained about the conditions and the bad bounces. Her view was echoed by Wimbledon champion Vondrousova. WTA said it had worked tooth and nail to "ensure the stadium and court meet strict performance standards."

But players have grown increasingly frustrated and completely demotivated in what should have been a "celebration" of women's tennis at the end of the season according to Sabalenka's coach Antonio Dubrov, but admitted, "You feel like you have no control anywhere."


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