By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday March 8, 2023
Canada’s Denis Shapovalov has come out as a true advocate for equal prize money in tennis. The 30th-ranked star, who is currently dating WTA player Mirjam Bjorklund, says he had his eyes opened when he realized how much money Bjorklund took home for reaching the main draw of a WTA 250 event.
“Unfortunately, it seems that if you are a female player, your chances of surviving as a pro are a lot lower … because you are a woman,” Shapovalov wrote.
Shapovalov says that paying out equal prize money to men and women is the only solution, and he lays out his beliefs in a letter penned for The Player’s Tribune.
“I still don’t understand the thought process,” he wrote. “Some say women don’t sell as many tickets, but when I go to matches the stadiums are full. I took a picture of the stands when Mirjam was playing Daria Saville at the WTA 250 in Washington, D.C., in August last year. It was packed. The game was crazy intense. The quality was unbelievable.”
This is a message to tennis… Something has to change.@PlayersTribune pic.twitter.com/D0rG4uNIpG
— Denis Shapovalov (@denis_shapo) March 7, 2023
Coached by his mother, Tessa, during his formative years and throughout his career, Shapovalov wonders if his mother was discriminated against when he was a youth.
“Looking back at that now really sucks,” she said. “She was a former Soviet national team player. She had won national championships. She had clearly trained up a pretty talented player, and she knew my game better than anyone. So why did nobody listen to her? Why wasn’t she taken seriously?
Was it because she was a woman?
Advocating for equal prize money for women is a fairly irregular practice among the men. Many believe that they are the driving force behind ticket sales. Some claim that the fact that they play best-of-five set matches at the Grand Slams makes higher compensation necessary.
“Maybe I’m being cynical, but I think some people might think of gender equality as mere political correctness,” he said. “Deep down they don’t feel that women deserve as much, you know? And that’s terrible.”
“Let’s give everyone the same chance,” he said. “Let’s pay out the same prize money.
“Let’s stop talking about reducing the gender gap. If we want tennis to be fair, it should not exist at all.” He added: “I don’t think we can be happy until it is completely equal for everyone. I’d like to see a…
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