World No. 1 Iga Swiatek said she hopes the governing body of the women’s game can do more to boost the tour this year and further reduce pay disparity between the sexes outside the sport’s biggest tournaments.
Tennis has sought to be a leader in the battle for equality in the past couple of decades with equal prize money offered to men and women at the four Grand Slams.
However, WTA Tour events still often offer less prize money than those on the men’s tour, which operates its own circuit.
Swiatek said that one of the top priorities for the tour as it celebrates its 50th anniversary should be to ensure events are more attractive for players, sponsors, organizers and fans.
“For sure, I’d like to see the WTA expanding business-wise, getting more popular, cutting the difference between WTA and ATP in terms of prize money and attracting fans,” Swiatek told reporters in the United Arab Emirates, where she was competing in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
A report in the Financial Times said that the ATP Tour, as of midway through last year, offered players 75 percent more prize money in tournaments — excluding the Grand Slams — than the women’s tour.
“Our tennis brings the same emotions as men’s tennis... There’s something you can find in women’s tennis that you’re not going to find on the ATP,” Swiatek said.
“Right now, after a couple of years of hearing we’re not consistent, we’re actually consistent. There are top players who are playing great in most of the tournaments,” she said.
In a move expected to cost the association hundreds of millions of dollars in broadcasting and sponsorship, the WTA suspended lucrative tournaments in China over concerns for former doubles No. 1 Peng Shuai.
She accused a senior Chinese government official of sexual assault in a 2021 social media post that was removed from the country’s Internet. She later denied making the accusation.
American Jessica Pegula, the world No. 3 and a member of the WTA Player Council, echoed Swiatek.
“I hope we can keep pushing for equal prize money at all events, being on TV more,” Pegula said.
She pointed to the United Cup mixed team tournament earlier this season as a way to achieve that.
“We’re starting to see slowly, more of it, especially with the United Cup, the response of everyone wanting to see men and women playing on the same court, on the same team, which was really fun for us. People love to see that,” she said.
In Dubai on Tuesday, Swiatek beat Canada’s Leylah Fernandez 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the round-of-16, where she yesterday beat Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova 6-1, 6-0 to move to the quarter-finals.
On Tuesday, Taiwanese sisters Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-ching beat Anna Kalinskaya of Russia and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (9/7) to advance to the women’s doubles quarter-finals.
They are today to play Americans Pegula and Coco Gauff, who beat Chan Hao-ching and Chinese partner Yang Zhaoxuan earlier this year in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Additional reporting by staff reporter
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