According the Washington Post:
“The difference in prize money awarded to men and women at tournaments where it has not been equalized has been stark. At last year’s Italian Open, for example, Novak Djokovic took home more than $900,000 for winning the men’s draw, while Iga Swiatek earned only about $365,000 for her women’s title. Borna Coric won $970,020 for his men’s singles victory at the 2022 Western & Southern Open in Ohio, while Caroline Garcia earned $412,000 for winning the women’s singles competition.”
The differences in tennis player salaries between WTA and ATP Tour Tennis players are not about women’s equality, but about who sells more tickets.
If sexism does not dictate ticket prices what does?
Economics dictates ticket prices and player winnings. Ticket sales show that men and women would rather watch the pro men’s matches (though there are times I have found personally that some of the women’s matchups are better). In the case of Serena Williams she probably should get more than the men as she is the draw, especially in the U.S., as she attracts tennis fans for her amazing tennis ability, she attracts black non-tennis American fans who follow her because of her race, and she attracts American fans for her celebrity. Like her or hate her Serena Williams, like Nick Kyrios or John McEnroe, is exciting to watch:
“In 2015, the U.S. Open women’s event between Serena and Venus Williams, sold out before the men’s event. The 2013 and 2014, women’s U.S. Open final garnered higher U.S. TV ratings than the men’s final. In 2005, the Wimbledon final between Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport drew 1 million more viewers than the showdown between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick.”
Yet, when I went to watch the Canadian Open a few years back in Toronto I asked why the stadium was so small as some of the top seating was gone, and my friend told me that they don’t sell enough tickets for the women’s event, they put it back up for the men’s event— and it was Serena Williams playing Canadian #1 women’s player and past U.S. Open tennis champ A. Bandreescu. It also depends on the sponsor: sponsors of the Mubadala Citi DC Open can opt to pay women more then men. They chose not to. (Note in the recent DC event that the men’s field was 48 players; the women’s 28.)
Why is men’s tennis on average more popular? Physically, there are male juniors tennis players who would trounce the woman #1, which is not a knock on women as they can do something much more important than play tennis: give birth to human life. If tennis events were open for everyone regardless of sex there would be no pro women’s tennis; that’s the nature of the game, and is why as the great Martina Navratilova would agree, “trans women” (biological males who label themselves as women) should not be in women’s sports.
What about the Grand Slam tennis events which pay equal prize money to the men and women? In the case of tennis Grand Slam events, it’s not the players as much as the event itself that brings in fans. (On an equality setting one can argue that men should be paid more for playing best of five sets, as women play best of three.) Outside the slams, the players tend to be a draw and male players such as Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Npval Djokovic, Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios draw in more fans, so they deserve more money. I think this is why a lot of the smaller events with lessor name recognition even pay appearance fees, it means the difference between making a profit and bankrupt.
The WTA is taking steps to equalize pay over time, but this cannot happen immediately until the economics support it:
“One of the main pillars of the strategy includes creating a pathway toward equal prize money, a goal envisioned 50 years ago when Billie Jean King founded the WTA. This increase will happen over time, to ensure the changes are sustainable for players and tournaments in the long term, with WTA 1000 and 500 combined events attaining equal prize money by 2027 and single-week WTA 1000 and 500 events by 2033″ [emphasis added]
“Obviously it’s a very delicate situation…Women deserve respect and admiration for what they are doing. You know, equal prize money was the main subject of the tennis world in the last seven, eight years. I have been through that process as well so I understand how much power and energy WTA and all the advocates for equal prize money have invested in order to reach that. I applaud them for that, I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve and they got it. On the other hand I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches. I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve. As long as it’s like that and there is data and stats available upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed.”
– Mark Da Cunha