The women’s tennis tour, WTA, on Tuesday, announced a plan to achieve pay equity at its biggest tournaments by 2033 and pledged to provide sustainable long-term growth for the women’s game.
Male and female tennis players have received equal pay at Grand Slams since 2007, but such is not the case at tournaments in the lower tiers, with events on the WTA Tour offered less money than those on the separate men’s ATP Tour.
Last month, world number six Ons Jabeur said it was “frustrating” that women players had to wait to receive the same prize money as their male counterparts at the Italian Open after tournament organizers announced plans to achieve pay parity by 2025. Spain’s Paula Badosa also raised questions over the pay disparity.
In the Rome tournament, the total “financial commitment” for the men was $9.51 million, while for the women, it was $3.5 million.
The WTA, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its foundation this year, said that the increase in prize money for WTA events would happen over time to ensure the changes are sustainable for players and tournaments in the long term.
The plan aims for joint WTA 1000 and 500 events, the two levels right below the four Slams, to attain equal prize money by 2027 and single-week WTA 1000 and 500 events by 2033.
“Fifty years after the players found strength in unity, I’m proud the WTA continues to be a global leader focused on providing opportunities, and hope that women in other sports and walks of life are inspired by its example,” WTA Founder Billie Jean King said, according to a statement on WTA’s website.
The WTA also revised its calendar, increasing the number of WTA 1000 events to 10, with events in Rome (2023), Madrid and Beijing (2024) and Cincinnati and Toronto/Montreal (2025) expanding to two weeks with larger draw sizes. The additional WTA 1000 events will be one-week events in Doha, Dubai and a venue which is yet to be finalized.
The number of WTA 500 events has been increased to 17, while at the WTA 250 level, the WTA said tournaments would have a stronger regional focus to create a more sustainable and viable business model that will help foster the next generation of stars.
“Every generation contributes to preserving the future of their sport, striving to leave it in a better state for the next. I take pride in being a part of this evolution and fully support the WTA’s commitment to progress,” said Sloane Stephens, WTA Player and Players’ Council Member.
Steve Simon, WTA Chairman & CEO, said providing equal compensation is a fundamental principle of the tour.
“At the heart of everything the WTA does is producing the highest-quality product and experience, and the strengthened future calendars will have a positive impact on our players, tournaments, fans and partners,” Simon said.
“Equality, including equal compensation, is a fundamental principle of the WTA, and it is crucial to attain this level. We appreciate the support from our tournaments in securing this top priority.”