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Tale as old as time

Tennis

November 13, 2019

The GIST: Stop us if you’ve heard this one already: a male athlete and a female athlete win the same tournament, and he gets paid twice as much as she does. Sound familiar? This is the story of the wage gap in the Rogers Cup, where Rafael Nadal took home $1.049 million, while Bianca Andreescu won a cool $519,480.

  • Andreescu actually took home less than the men’s runner-up, Daniil Medvedev, who left with $531,010. So, essentially, it’s more lucrative to be a losing man than a winning woman?

It’s 2019. What gives?:In this case, there are some arguably “valid” reasons for this particular wage gap. One of them has to do with tennis’ governing bodies.

  • Unlike soccer, for example, which is run by FIFA for both men and women, there are two organizing bodies in professional tennis: the ATP, which governs men’s pro tennis, and the WTA, for the women. Each organization runs independently, but they often work together to host joint tournaments.

Got it. But why does this matter?:The Rogers Cup is one of those shared events. However, the weight of the tournament is different for each side. For the men, it’s a Masters 1000 tournament, worth 1000 points inthe ATP rankings. For the women, it’s a Premier 5 event, worth 900 points. 

  • In other words, if a Grand Slam tournament (the US Open, for example) is a tier I event, then the men’s Rogers Cup would be a tier II and the women’s Rogers Cup would be a tier III. The lower the tier, the less prize money.

Seems strange:You’re not wrong. And given that the Rogers Cup attracts high-calibre men and women (heck, queen Serena Williams was playing!), Tennis Canada, which operates Rogers Cup,couldmandate an equal prize pool. 

  • Rogers Communications as the sponsor could also use the revenue from our ridiculously high phone bills to match the prize money. But neither Tennis Canada nor Rogers has stepped up. Yet.

Sounds complicated:Equal pay always is. Look no further than what the US Women’s National soccer team is going through in theirfight for pay equity. The good news? Tennis is one of the most progressive sports out there in terms of equal pay. 

  • The US Open (the final grand slam of the season) starts in a week and a half, and everybody, thanks to tennis icon and equal rights advocate Billie Jean King, gets paid the same.