Should women’s tennis players get paid as much as men’s tennis players? My answer is: “It depends.”
It specifically should depend on the amount of profit generated by each sex (men vs. women) in major tennis tournaments (Australian Open; French Open; Wimbledon; U.S. Open).
Profits are derived from: (1) total TV/digital viewership; (2) advertisement bids (ad revenue); (3) in-person ticket sales; and (4) food, drink, apparel, etc. sales at the venue and online; and more.
If total profit generated by both sexes is generally equal most of the time – the payout should be relatively equal like it currently is (for the sake of equity and fairness).
However, if total profit generated by one sex is consistently and significantly greater than profit generated by the other sex – then the sex generating significantly higher profit should be compensated accordingly.
Why? Anything other than compensation relative to profitability is both unethical and unfair.
How to determine whether men & women deserve equal pay in professional tennis
There are some relatively easy, commonsense ways to determine whether men and women deserve equal pay in tennis – or whether one sex deserves higher pay.
Have a women’s major tournament run in isolation (separately) from a men’s major tournament (perhaps spread ~2-4 weeks apart).
Gauge the total revenue generated by each tournament separately rather than combined – and determine whether one sex is generating substantially more revenue than the other.
If women are generating substantially more revenue on average – they’d deserve to be paid even more than the men.
If men are generating substantially more revenue on average – they’d deserve to be paid more than the women.
Note: This may actually increase total profitability for both sexes and could be a useful experiment.
Hire some experts to analyze the estimated total revenue generated from men’s and women’s major tennis matches – and compare the findings.
This would factor in things like: (1) number of viewers; (2) total ticket sales; (3) apparel sales; (4) digital sales; (5) advertisements (do big advertisers care about specific sexes); (6) average viewing duration; etc.
If the findings suggest that men generate significantly more revenue (on average) relative to women – then the men should earn more because they’re generating more revenue for the tournament.
If the findings suggest that women generate significantly more revenue (on average) relative to the men – then the women should earn more because they’re generating more revenue for the tournament.
Why haven’t these analyses been conducted?
Maybe they have. I’m not certain whether anyone has “run the numbers” and actually calculated an estimation for how much money men’s players generate relative to women’s players at major tennis tournaments.
It’s possible that the findings remain unreleased due to the fact that it might make it obvious that the men should be paid more or something (such as to spur a bit of backlash from current men’s tennis players who become disgruntled and unsatisfied with their pay).
However, there may be significant backlash from the crowd that advocates for equal pay and equal outcome regardless of whether the equal pay/outcome is legitimately deserved based on profit margins.
Differences between men’s & women’s tennis at major tournaments…
There are some significant differences between men’s and women’s major tennis tournaments – yet the payout is equal for champions.
I think these differences are worth highlighting – as some may influence the reason men’s tennis generates higher profits on average than women’s tennis.
Average match length
The average length of a men’s major tennis match is around 2.5 hours.
The average length of a women’s major tennis match is around 1.5 hours.
Why is the average play time significantly less for women in majors?
Women are only required to win 2 sets (best of 3) and men are required to win 3 sets (best of 5) – in order to win the match.
One could argue that men would likely generate more total revenue as a result of longer view times resulting from match lengths (even if total number of viewers were equal).
Think about this – there are 128 players in the singles tournament yielding 64 matches, then 32 matches (second round), then 16 matches (third round), then 8 matches (fourth round), then 4 matches (fifth round), then 2 matches (sixth round), then 1 match (championship).
This means there are a total of 127 matches for both the men and women at Wimbledon.
Considering average match durations for each sex, this would yield: ~317.5 hours for men vs. ~190.5 hours for women – which is ~127 hours more tennis played by the men.
127 additional hours should provide around 1.67-fold more total watch time (broadcasting deals & advertising opportunities) for men’s tennis at Wimbledon relative to women.
Even if we assume identical viewership numbers, the payout should still favor the men on the basis of total tennis duration at Wimbledon (providing longer broadcasting sessions & more advertisement slots).
Sets required to win match
As I already mentioned, men are required to win 3 sets (best of 5 sets) at major tournaments (i.e. Grand Slams), whereas women are only required to win 2 sets (best of 3 sets) at major tournaments.
The result ends up being that men play for a longer average duration per match – and a longer average duration per tournament than the women.
Assuming you’re a man in a Grand Slam tournament who wins the final – you can expect to have logged approximately 17.5 hours (assuming matches last an average of 2.5 hours) on the court.
If you’re a woman in a Grand Slam tournament who wins the final – you can expect to have logged approximately 10.5 hours (assuming matches last an average of 1.5 hours) on the court.
This means that the average men’s Grand Slam winner will have played 7 hours of additional tennis (on average) to win the same amount of prize money.
As was already mentioned, the longer average match length translates into more advertisements shown (i.e. commercials) and probably more total viewers.
For this reason, one could argue that longer matches in men’s tennis generate more revenue on the basis of match length – even if viewership numbers are identical.
Note: It is important to mention that some women want to have longer matches at majors (playing best of 5 sets – rather than the current best of 3 set format). This could increase revenue, but might also increase injuries and/or decrease average viewership. Nonetheless, experimentation with the length of women’s tennis matches may be worthwhile at majors.
Some have argued that the men deserve to be paid more than women in tennis because they’re more skilled.
Ultimately this is a bad argument because it’s theoretically possible women’s tennis could generate more profits than men’s tennis despite being significantly less skilled (on average).
John McEnroe stated that if Serena Williams were playing on the men’s tennis tour (ATP) – she’d rank somewhere around Number 700 – and this is probably accurate.
In 1998, the Williams sisters asked to play a male player ranked 200 to prove they could compete in the men’s circuit and a guy by the name of Karsten Braasch volunteered (age 30 – rank: 203).
Braasch never won an ATP singles tournament (he did reach one final) and was a solid doubles player – and was a heavy smoker/drinker.
Braasch crushed both Venus (6-2) and Serena (6-1) while serving ~40% of his usual pace after having lunch with beer before the match; basically not trying that hard.
Most D1 men’s college tennis players would demolish even the best women’s tennis players in the world – because they have more overall skill (in part as a byproduct of greater strength, speed, and power).
Should tennis players get paid based on their skill level? No. I’ve made it clear why paying based on skill alone is problematic.
Let’s use the industry of “gaming streaming” as an example with 2 different streamers: (1) Streamer #1 is the most talented vs. (2) Streamer #2 is good (not the best) but the most entertaining.
Which of these streamers will generate the most profits? It’s possible that Streamer #1 might – but it’s more likely that people will be more attracted to the entertainment factor of Streamer #2.
Therefore, being highly skilled doesn’t automatically mean more people are willing to watch or that high profits will be made from viewership.
Serena Williams is a prime example of this. Despite no longer ranking #1 in women’s tennis – she still generates the highest viewership among women (by far) when reaching the finals (and it’s not really close).
In fact, Serena’s viewership is so significant – it seems to outperform men’s final viewership (as evidenced by data from 2018 at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open).
Despite the fact that skill shouldn’t automatically determine payouts – we must acknowledge that, on average, skill influences total viewership (even if there are outliers wherein more people want to watch Serena Williams than 2 lesser known men).
Skill level is probably the primary reason why more people watch men’s tennis than women’s tennis (on average) and why more people watch men’s sports than women’s sports.
Therefore, a case can be made that men deserve more money than women in tennis… not because they are more skilled – but because their higher level of skill usually translates to higher average viewership and profitability (on average – despite there being certain outliers).
This should include both: (1) total duration of viewing AND (2) total number of viewers (average & peak).
Below are some viewership statistics reported for men’s and women’s tennis matches in various years.
Keep in mind that I do not have a Statista membership and therefore missed out on some data hidden behind a paywall.
ATP vs. WTA Finals (2015)
- 973M viewers watched ATP (men’s) tennis events
- 395M viewers watched WTA (women’s) tennis events
(This is around 2.46-fold more viewers for men)
Australian Open (2020)
- Men’s final: ~2.67M viewers (peak) & 2.04M viewers (average)
- Women’s final: 1.639M viewers (peak)
French Open (2020)
- Men’s final: 3.77M viewers
- Women’s final: 1.8M viewers
French Open (2019)
- Men’s final: 1.62M viewers
- Women’s final: 1.45M viewers
Australian Open (2018)
- Men’s final: 1.58M viewers
- Women’s final: 1.17M viewers
French Open (2018)
- Men’s final: 1.62M viewers
- Women’s final: 1.45M viewers
U.S. Open (2018)
- Men’s final: 2.06M viewers
- Women’s final: 3.1M viewers
- Men’s final: 4.5M viewers
- Women’s final: 4.6M viewers
Additionally, I’ve found some specific major tournament (i.e. Grand Slam) finals wherein women get more total viewership than the men.
When this occurs – the media runs with it and implies that it’s extremely common (such that women are consistently getting bigger draws now such as to justify equal pay).
One such example is the website “Signal AI” which published a report emphasizing that women in tennis may be underrepresented via media reporting and coverage relative to men. (R)
Signal AI used one year in isolation (2018) for its dataset which could be extremely misleading if attempting to see the big picture (i.e. macro perspective).
Why didn’t they cover previous years, later years, or 5-year/10-year averages? Perhaps they wanted to push a specific narrative with cherry-picked data.
Signal AI stated: “media doesn’t treat male and female professional tennis players in the same way.”
Authors imply that this is mostly explained by gender/sex bias… rather than due to organic demand/interest (favoring the men over the women).
Based on simple Google search interest for top players – there are over 1M more searches for the Top 5 men’s tennis players each month than for the Top 5 women’s tennis players (this is publicly available data).
Perhaps the reason male tennis players are covered more in the media is due to the fact that coverage generates greater profits for the publishers (media companies)? Just a logical guess.
Although if we tally total viewers for men and women in 2018 – the women actually come out ahead at 10.32M vs. 9.76M for men, this seems to be a statistical anomaly rather than something common (it’s more of a “Serena Williams” effect than anything).
Using the finals to showcase the difference is somewhat fair when considering the fact that many people complain about “lack of coverage” of women.
Why? The finals are always televised from start to finish on a mainstream television network for both men and women – so if the draws are equal – we should theoretically see equal viewership numbers.
That said, the finals probably do not reveal the full disparity in viewership between men’s and women’s tennis – as more people probably watch a women’s final match than any of the earlier rounds.
Though the same can be said for men, there may be a more substantial (i.e. exponential) uptick in viewership for women’s tennis finals relative to earlier round women’s matches – and there may be a less substantial uptick in viewership for men’s finals relative to earlier round men’s matches (such that the men may consistently generate higher viewership).
Additionally, even if women generate more total viewers – this doesn’t necessarily equal more profitability (as matches are generally shorter) or mean that more people watched more total women’s tennis at Grand Slams (as viewership leading up to the final may have skewed heavily towards the men).
This analysis by Signal AI also didn’t consider that 2018 may have been a “down year” for men’s finals due to the specific matchups or a particularly exciting year for women’s matchups.
Men’s 2018 Grand Slam Matchups
- Australian Open: Federer vs. Cilic (Federer wins in 5 sets).
- French Open: Nadal vs. Thiem (Nadal wins in 3 sets).
- Wimbledon: Djokovic vs. Anderson (Djokovic wins in 3 sets).
- U.S. Open: Djokovic vs. Del Potro (Djokovic wins in 3 sets).
Comparatively speaking we had some particularly intriguing matchups for the women in 2018.
Women’s 2018 Grand Slam Matchups
- Australian Open: Wozniacki vs. Halep (Woz wins in 3 sets – becoming the first Dane to win a major singles title).
- French Open: Halep vs. Stephens (Halep wins in 3 sets – her first major title).
- Wimbledon: Williams vs. Kerber (Kerber wins in 2 sets against Serena).
- U.S. Open: Williams vs. Osaka (Osaka wins in 2 sets against Serena but there’s a lot of drama).
One could argue that if Serena plays she generates a massive viewership (because she’s arguably the most popular tennis player in the world regardless of sex) – but if it’s anyone else the viewership tanks.
The “Serena effect” may have explained why viewership was greater for the women’s finals in both Wimbledon and U.S. Open.
The viewership data from 2018 likely says more about Serena Williams (considered the G.O.A.T. of women’s tennis) rather than average women’s tennis viewership.
Google search popularity: Men’s vs. women’s (2022)
Below are the Google searches for the Top 5 men’s and women’s tennis players.
Keep in mind that following doesn’t necessarily reflect viewership or profitability – but it does indicate general interest in certain players.
Men’s ATP Top 5 (July 2022)
- Daniil Medvedev: 110K
- Alexander Zverev: 90.5K
- Novak Djokovic: 673K
- Rafael Nadal: 550K
- Stefanos Tsitsipas: 110K
Google searches: 1.53M per month
Women’s ATP Top 5 (July 2022)
- Iga Swiatek: 110K
- Ons Jabeur: 40.5K
- Anett Kontaviet: 22.2K
- Paula Badosa: 60.5K
- Maria Sakkari: 74K
Google searches: 307.2K per month
The difference in Google searches between the Top 5 men’s and Top 5 women’s tennis players is around 1.22M (in favor of the men).
This is a snapshot of Google searches for only July 2022 – and only of the top 5 players of the sexes in tennis, respectively.
Findings might differ if considering the top 50 and/or average rankings over the past 5 years – but I doubt they would.
In fact, I suspect that things might be even more lopsided in terms of general interest in men’s players.
Physical demand & injuries
Men have greater physical strength and physical durability than women – hence the reason men are more talented in professional sports.
Greater physical strength and durability among men is a reason as to why men are expected to play best of 5 sets at majors and women are only expected to play best of 3 sets at majors.
Winning a best of 5 set match requires significantly more preparation in terms of strength and cardio training for men relative to women (who may be more focused on improving their shots and/or strategy).
Rates of injury at Grand Slam tennis tournaments vary between men’s and women’s tennis players – with higher rates for women’s tennis players (23.4 injuries per 1000 sets) vs. men’s tennis players (17.7 injuries per 1000 sets).
Higher rates of injury likely also mean that women’s matches are more likely to end abruptly due to forced “retirement” (i.e. match ending) resulting from injury.
In the event that a match ends prematurely, viewership (particularly on TV) will drop – and this also theoretically contributes to lower overall profitability.
Ticket costs & demand
Although both the French Open and Wimbledon have “equalized” ticket prices for men’s and women’s final matches – the equalization of prices doesn’t mean equal demand.
My guess is that both the French Open and Wimbledon are missing out on money by doing this.
How might French Open and Wimbledon be losing money by adopting an “equal price” ticket policy for both men’s and women’s tennis?
There is likely higher demand to watch men’s tennis – this was admitted by the director of the French Open (who is a former women’s tennis champion).
If prices are equal for men’s and women’s Grand Slam tickets – then either:
- Profits aren’t maximized: Tickets for men’s tennis may be sold for less than they could be sold for – such that they sell out immediately due to high demand for low rates.
- Lower attendance for women: If events raised the cost of women’s tickets to match that of men’s – then attendance may simply end up abnormally low for a lot of women’s matches because fewer people are willing to pay the increased rate to watch women.
The U.S. Open prices as of 2022 suggest that the men’s final tickets be priced at least ~2.23-fold more than the women’s final tickets.
If the desire to view men’s and women’s tennis finals were equal – then the pricing for tickets should theoretically be identical (or very similar) as well… but this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Not only do ticket buyers want to see the highest level of skill (men’s tennis) – but they probably want to view longer matches (~2.5 hours for men vs. ~1.5 hours for women).
How should men’s and women’s tennis players get paid?
Based on total average profitability. It’s really that simple – no need for any complex analyses.
This isn’t really a sex/gender issue wherein men and women “deserve” equal pay.
This is a matter of which sex is generating the most revenue during matches (on average).
We don’t even need to factor in: match length; skill level; difficulty; total demand (although this usually goes hand-in-hand with profits); etc.
The only thing that should be considered are the average profits generated from men relative to the average profits generated by women – this is all that matters.
If they are roughly proportionate (i.e. equal) – then the payouts should obviously be equal and remain unchanged.
However, if one sex generates significantly more profit than the other – the compensation should reflect this – as this is the most “fair” way to function.
Men’s tennis has more appeal than women’s tennis?
Amelie Mauresmo (a female tennis champion & French Open director) stated the following:
“In this era that we are in right now, I don’t feel – – and as a woman, former women’s tennis player, I don’t feel bad or unfair saying that right now you have more attraction, more attractivity – can you say that? Appeal? That’s the general, for the men’s matches.” (R)
Keep in mind that this is not only the director of the French Open – but a former 2-time Grand Slam champion and former tennis coach.
Predictably, women were “disappointed” in the remarks from Amelie Mauresmo even if the remarks were truthful or based on legitimate data. (The truth isn’t always comfortable.)
Iga Swiatek responded:
“I think women’s tennis has a lot of advantages. And some may say that it’s unpredictable and girls are not consistent. But on the other hand it may also be something that is really appealing and it may attract more people.”
Despite the fact that Iga Swiatek speculates women’s tennis “may attract more people” – there’s no evidence that it actually does attract more people.
As of 2022, Muresmo stated that it would have been “difficult” to place women’s players on the schedule for spectators with a single ticket for the evening only.
This is essentially admitting that the revenue generated would be far less overall for women’s tennis if they are marketed in isolation relative to the men.
Novak Djokovic questions whether women deserve equal pay in tennis…
“I think the WTA… you know, in my next life, when I come back, I want to be someone in the WTA because they ride on the coattails of men.” – Raymond Moore (former tennis pro)
Djokovic praised the women’s game for its efforts on equal pay – but claimed that the men should “fight for more.”
Djokovic’s words (2016) (R):
“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 7-8 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 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.”
After making these logical and seemingly benign comments, Djokovic received a lot of [unexpected] backlash.
Why? These comments could wake people up to the fact that the men are being underpaid relative to profits generated.
This may jeopardize future earning potential for women if the men boycott and demand a change.
In response to the backlash Djokovic stated:
“This was never meant to be made into a fight between genders and differences in pay, but in the way all players are awarded for their play and effort.
I want to apologize to anyone who has taken this the wrong way.”
Nearly everyone in the mainstream media intentionally took it the wrong way because they aren’t listening to the logic – they’re simply reacting with strong emotion because: “gender pay gap.”
Djokovic et al. start player’s association without women…
Novak Djokovic and Vasek Pospisil formed a new tennis organization in 2019 that consists of the top men’s tennis players called the “Professional Tennis Players Association” (PTPA). (R)
The PTPA is the first player-only tennis association in tennis since 1972 – and will represent the interests of men’s singles players in the top 500 and doubles players in the top 200.
In the words of Djokovic:
“The goal of the P.T.P.A. is NOT to replace the ATP, but to provide players with a self-governance structure that is independent from the ATP and is directly responsive to player-members’ needs and concerns.”
Unfortunately, it seems as though some men are afraid to join in fear of public backlash (i.e. supporting a male-only league).
Notable examples who opted out include: Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer – all of whom have made so much money that it’s smart to not join (as there’s only downside in the form of negative public opinion).
Furthermore, they may have made so much money that they’re out of touch with average earning male professional tennis players – some of whom may want higher pay for men based on profits generated.
Immediately after formation of the PTPA – leaders of the WTA reacted negatively (predictably as this may jeopardize earning potential for women if they aren’t “bundled” with men in tournaments) and many women’s players want something similar for women.
My question here would be: Why don’t some of the top women start their own organization analogous to Djokovic and Pospisil?
Players that support the PTPA include: John Isner, Ryan Harrison, Hubert Hurkacz, Reilly Opelka, Pablo Carreno Busta, Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic, etc.
Former players that support the PTPA include: Patrick McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Paul McNamee, Andy Roddick.
Nadal thinks payout should be based on viewership
In an Italian magazine named “lo Donna,” Nadal was asked the following question (2018):
Question: In tennis, should women earn as much as men?
Nadal: “It’s a comparison we shouldn’t even make. Female models earn more than male models and nobody says anything. Why? Because they have a larger following. In tennis too, who gathers a larger audience earns more.”
This suggests that Nadal really thinks payout should be based on viewership numbers or audience – not “gender” or “sex.”
This may run contra to the stance Nadal took when Djokovic came out and opted to start his own tennis league specifically for men – Nadal refused to join (seemingly on the basis of inequality between sexes).
Some people responded by noting specific matches wherein women (e.g. Serena & Sharapova) had greater viewership than men – emphasizing that they should’ve been paid way more to reflect this.
Others referenced larger viewership for specific lengthy men’s matches (e.g. 5+ hours) stating that these matches should’ve been compensated more than the championship.
The reality is that these references are outliers. Going to a payout model based on the viewership of a specific match or for a specific person can get too complex (but theoretically could be done).
However, it’s relatively easy to look at average draws (rather than random outliers) and determine whether men/women are earning relative to the interest they generate.
Note: Many women agreed with Nadal’s point here – despite there being many who strongly disagreed.
Serena Williams with zero logic attempting to make a point about gender pay gap in tennis…
Serena Williams responded to Djokovic:
“If I have a daughter who plays tennis and also have a son that plays tennis, I wouldn’t say that my son deserves more because he is a man.”
“If they both started at 3 years old I would say they both deserve the same amount of money.”
“Djokovic is entitled to his opinion but if he has a daughter – I think he has a son right now – he should talk to her and tell her how his son deserves more money because he is a boy.”
“It all boils down to that. I would never put a sex against another sex. I think it’s unfair to compare.”
These comments are completely foolish when considering the fact that nobody deserves (or is entitled to money) for playing tennis.
If I play recreational tennis but I’m not as good – why can’t I get a cut of the Grand Slam pay?
It’s not about the age you start OR about how long you’ve been playing tennis that dictates payout.
It comes down to profits generated from your tennis (usually correlated with total viewership) – regardless of everything else (age, skill level, gender/sex, etc.).
If you’ve only been playing tennis for a short amount of time and are terrible (i.e. unskilled) – but millions of people want to watch you play for whatever reason(s) – you can charge money and generate profit.
If someone is better than you (i.e. more skilled) but nobody wants to watch them for whatever reason(s) – then that individual should not be entitled to money (as there’s no demand to watch him/her).
Djokovic never once stated that he’s against women getting paid a fair amount of money relative to the profits they generate.
In fact, Djokovic emphasized that he was 100% in support of women getting paid an amount relative to the profits they generate.
Djokovic was merely stating that if: (A) men’s tennis is more profitable (particularly at majors) – then (B) payouts should reflect the increased profitability (which is not knocking women’s tennis).
Would you fight for equal pay in modeling & adult entertainment?
This is a relatively comical question and most probably won’t take it seriously.
Why? Because everyone knows females generate more interest in modeling and adult entertainment than males.
According to a top modeling agent – male supermodels earn significantly less than female supermodels. (R)
Do people even care about this? Not any with common sense.
This is to be expected as female models generate more interest and are thus more profitable.
What about in the “adult entertainment” industry?
Read: Top OnlyFans Earners (You’ll learn that the top earners are all female.)
Research also suggests that female pornstars earn more than male pornstars by an average of 2-to-6-fold (~$40K for males per year vs. $100-250K for females per year).
Why is this? Profitability. Females in the adult entertainment industry generate far more interest than males and thus can demand higher payouts – which makes logical sense.
Should male OnlyFans content creators demand “equal pay” to the women creators? LOL.
No they shouldn’t – it’s all about demand/profitability.
Tennis still has a “pay gap”? (CNBC thinks so)
An article on CNBC called “The U.S. Open awards men and women equal prize money – but tennis still has a pay gap” highlights the fact that women earn less (on average) relative to men in professional tennis despite equalization of major tournament payouts.
The CNBC article went as far as to state that the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) payout is $0.80 to every $1 earned by the men’s ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals).
It also noted that Venus Williams is advocating for equal pay by asking Grand Slam board members to think about their “daughters and wives and sisters” and how they would “like them to be treated.”
Both of the Williams sisters (Venus & Serena) have joined with Billie Jean King to fight for equal pay between sexes in all sports.
I’m confused as to how there’s a “pay gap” in tennis though when it has NOT been proven by any analysis that women generate as much money for tennis (on average) than men.
It’s possible that: despite earning more, men might actually be getting paid less as a percentage of the total amount of revenue they generate in tennis than women.
Ultimately, this may be a form of undeserved charity for women’s tennis players for simply being the female sex and essentially piggybacking off of the popularity associated with men’s tennis.
I tend to think pairing the women with the men is mutually beneficial – sort of a symbiotic relationship at major tournaments.
However, I don’t think women should be paid equally unless the data consistently suggests they generate similar profits.
If the data indicate that women generate more profits – then I think women should be paid more than men… it’s pretty simple to follow my logic.
Where the gender pay gap argument falls flat in tennis…
If you’re an advocate for “equal pay” across the board – why not argue for equal pay at the wheelchair tournament and in the doubles tournaments?
After all – these tournaments are ongoing at the same time as the men’s and women’s singles tournaments.
How much do wheelchair singles tournament winners earn? $600,000.
This is certainly a nice amount of money – but it’s not as significant as $3.15M for the men’s singles and women’s singles winners.
Does this mean that the U.S. Open is discriminating against individuals who are handicapped?
Of course not – it’s just trying to form payouts that are somewhat proportionate to the overall profits generated from that particular event.
What about “doubles tournaments” – why aren’t doubles winners paid as much for winning Grand Slams as singles?
Shouldn’t they theoretically be paid double the singles winners because 2 people won it and thus the amount is less per person?
Why isn’t there a division for transgender tennis players? Isn’t this gender discrimination?
And if a division were to be formed – shouldn’t the winner earn the same amount as the men/women singles?
What about the U18 divisions at Grand Slams? Shouldn’t the payout be equal for U18 singles? If not, isn’t this “age discrimination”?
One could argue that comes down to skill, viewership, and profitability – but this argument isn’t used to justify equal pay for women & men in Grand Slams.
If your argument is skill – this falls flat as well on the basis that the best U18 male tennis players would beat the best women tennis players without much effort.
Going far enough down the proverbial “rabbit hole” we can see that equal pay in tennis is nothing more than a PR move to give women (complaining about the pay gap) equal pay – and look good in the eyes of liberal media.
Tennis Grand Slam payouts prior to “equal pay?”
Billie Jean King deserves credit for getting women equal pay in tennis – as she called for equal distribution of winnings between men and women.
King threatened a boycott of the 1973 U.S. Open and as a result the USTA opted to implement equal payouts for men and women – who each took home $25,000 that year. (R)
The U.S. Open has had equal pay since 1973 and this equality has never changed – even first-round losers are paid equally for their performance regardless of sex/gender.
In 1968, men earned over 2-fold the amount women earned at the U.S. Open ($98.7K vs. $42.3K).
In 1969, men earned over 2-fold the amount women earned at the Australian Open ($29.9K vs. $11.6K) – and in 1978 earned about 6.8-fold the amount women earned at this same event.
In the 1980s – pay at the Australian Open became significantly more evenly distributed.
Since 2001 all payouts at the Australian Open have been identical between sexes (women & men).
In 1968, men earned about 3-fold the amount women earned at the French Open. This pay discrepancy increased and peaked in ~1978 and became very narrow thereafter.
Since 2006, men and women have been paid equally at the French Open.
In 1968, men earned about 2.66-fold more money than women at the Wimbledon ($33.8K vs. $12.7K).
The pay gap narrowed substantially within a decade and by 1977 the difference was only ~11.1% ($105.4K vs. $94.8K) at Wimbledon.
The pay gap between women and men at Wimbledon remained relatively narrow (~10% or less) between 1978 and 2008.
As of 2007, there has been zero pay gap between male and female tennis players at Wimbledon.
Why don’t all professional sports have equal pay for men & women?
The answer should be obvious to most people with functioning brains: stark discrepancies in profitability.
Market demand proves itself in nearly every sport when comparing men & women: NBA vs. WNBA; NHL vs. PHF; NFL vs. WNFC; MLB vs. NFP; etc.
Some data scientist on Medium wrote a compelling, in-depth analysis suggesting that WNBA players are underpaid. (R)
However, this guy completely omitted one important fact: the WNBA has consistently operated at a net loss of $10M per year (average). (R)
The real question that should’ve been asked is: Why do WNBA players earn anything at all if the league is consistently operating at a loss of $10M+ per year?
Men’s sports usually generate more: total viewers; advertising revenue; ticket sales; apparel sales; news/media coverage; etc. – for a variety of reasons including higher level of physical strength/power and thus higher skill/competition.
Knowing that male sports leagues generate massive profits but women’s don’t – why should there be a forced implementation of equal pay in women’s sports?
Using even a modicum of logic – one would know that forced implementation of equal pay in women’s sports without equal profit generation is unethical and unfair.
How does this happen then? The media constantly pushes the narrative that women (including female athletes) are underpaid solely as a result of their sex/gender (i.e. being female).
They suggest that women deserve equal pay because it’s “justice” and anything less is sex/gender discrimination.
Yet the reality is that nobody is discriminating against women in sports – women’s sports just aren’t making any profits.
The fact that I read articles complaining about a pay gap between men & women in sports makes me want to vomit because none consider total profits generated.
Some do complain about lack of marketing and broadcasting deals, etc. – but the question to ask is why there’s less marketing and fewer broadcasting deals.
The answer should be obvious: fewer people actually watch and the ROI may end up negative.
Final thoughts: Women’s tennis & equal pay
Although I enjoy watching men’s tennis more than women’s tennis – I think women’s tennis is the most entertaining of all women’s sports (and it’s not really close).
If a quality women’s tennis match is on TV (particularly at a Grand Slam tournament) I’ll watch it to completion and have a good experience doing so.
Women’s tennis generates significant interest and much higher profits than other women’s sports – hence the reason the payouts are substantial for women’s tennis players.
The top 3 highest paid female athletes in the world: Osaka, S. Williams, V. Williams – are all in tennis. (R)
In sum, I think it’s important to avoid letting sex/gender influence pay for the sake of “equality.”
Run the numbers, determine profits, and pay accordingly based on average profits by each sex/gender.
If women truly deserve equal pay (relative to men) in tennis – then why not prove that they deserve equal pay by showing that the estimated profits generated by women are in the same general ballpark as those generated by men?
(Similarly, if men deserve to be paid more, why not prove that they deserve greater pay by showing that the estimated profits generated by men are consistently and significantly greater than those generated by women?)
Unless the data actually supports equal pay for women’s tennis players at Grand Slams – I think that equal pay is: unethical, undeserved, and inherently inequitable.