The world of professional tennis, seen by many as a beacon of gender equality in sports, is underpinned by a secret subsidy.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has reportedly been quietly supporting the concept of gender parity in prize money with a substantial subsidy of nearly £25 million ($32 million). The prize money disparity has been a discussed topic in the world of tennis recently, with renowned coach Patrick Mouratoglou saying that WTA can't afford to pay the same because of lower revenue
The recent revelation, as disclosed by The Telegraph, has sparked conversations and renewed scrutiny on the seemingly balanced prize money scenario in tennis. For years, the four grandest tournaments after the Grand Slams - Indian Wells, Miami Open, Madrid Open, and China Open - have demonstrated an apparent equality in their prize funds for both men and women.
Beyond these major events, six other noteworthy tournaments, including Qatar Open in Doha, Dubai Championships, Wuhan Open, Italian Open in Rome, Cincinnati Masters and the Canadian Open in Toronto or Montreal, receive similar financial support from the WTA. This hefty subsidy calls into question the long-term sustainability of such a strategy.
It turns out that the WTA has been providing a significant chunk of the prize money for the women's side, an initiative that goes beyond the reign of current WTA chief, Steve Simon, and stretches back into the organisation's history.
It was recently in Madrid when the women's World No. 1 Iga Swiatek was asked about the disparity, saying it's a lot of business and politics. On the other hand, Australian ATP player John Millman sided with Mouratoglou, as he claimed that the WTA is to blame for prize money disparity.
While the revelation underscores the WTA's commitment to gender equality, it also uncovers the latent challenges in maintaining gender parity in the world of tennis. It underscores a delicate balancing act that strives to make professional tennis an egalitarian sport.
The question of true gender parity in prize money becomes an intriguing, complex conundrum that calls for strategic and equitable solutions from both the WTA and ATP. Despite clear disparity in many events, it's very interesting that the 2023 China Open was still able to produce the highest-ever prize money for a winner of the tournament outside of Grand Slams and Finals, and it's going to be a woman that receives it.