Tennis star Jessica Pegula calls out gender pay gap in tennis
By Ryan General
December 18, 2023
Tennis star Jessica Pegula raised her concerns about the persistent gender pay gap in professional tennis in a recent interview.
Equality beyond Grand Slams: The Buffalo-born athlete, who was ranked the ninth highest-paid female athlete for 2022 by Forbes, emphasized the need for increased efforts to achieve equality in prize money across all tournaments. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) world No. 5 sat down with Forbes as part of her feature on the outlet’s “30 Under 30 2024” list.
In a video Forbes uploaded on Nov. 29, Pegula points out that while the Grand Slam tournaments offer equal pay, this is not replicated across the majority of other WTA and ATP events.
“Women’s tennis is a huge sport for the highest-paid female athlete, but at the same time, the pay gap is still very big,” she says. “And we always talk about how it’s equal at slams, but those are four tournaments a year. It’s not equal at a lot of the other tournaments.”
Identifying the marketing gap: The 29-year-old athlete of Korean descent attributes the gender pay gap in tennis to a lack of effective marketing. She believes that women’s tennis has failed to secure the sponsorship deals needed to bridge the earnings gap.
Optimistic about the future, Pegula cited the WTA’s recent partnership with CVC Capital Partners as a potential catalyst for change. Under the $150 million deal, CVC will invest in women’s tennis to create WTA Ventures LLC and revamp commercial strategies.
She also highlighted the importance of “getting more stories out there on all the incredible players that we have.”
Support in pay equality: Denis Shapovalov’s public acknowledgment of the gender pay gap in tennis back in March resonated strongly with Pegula. In a piece for Players’ Tribune, Shapovalov candidly discussed his initial assumption of gender equality in professional tennis and his subsequent realization, prompted by his girlfriend, Mirjam Bjorklund, a WTA player.
Pegula applauded Shapovalov for bringing attention to the issue, stating, “It’s something that the men, I think for the most part, have supported. But it’s always if they get asked, they support it.”
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