The story goes that Edvard Munch’s most famous painting The Scream was inspired as he walked on a pathway through a wooded area of Oslo, Norway. If he had been involved in present day professional tennis The Scream would likely be inspired by those who just cannot see, or don’t want to see, how the distribution of prize money is conducted at tournaments.
Instead, they want to scream about combined events or similar level tournaments where the prize money distribution is not the same for men and women. This misrepresentation has come from past players, questioned by current players as well as certain current tennis media who should know way better.
Every so often this topic raises its head and often it is someone seeking a bit of added attention. They jump on the WTA bandwagon and go on about women’s tennis being deprived of the same prize money levels as the men at a combined tournament.
Not long ago this came about during the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome when individuals were going on about the women getting less that the men. Just because it is a combined ATP-WTA event does not mean the respective sections are the same level. Even more recently the Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk tweeted about prize money differences at grass court tournaments in Europe.
In the case of Rome, individuals were very quick to blame the tournament when it really did not have anything to do with the tournament. Just because these people saw it as a 1000 level for the men and a 1000 level for the women, felt and believed the prize money should be equal. They had screams when the women did not get the same as the men.
The women’s part of the tournament was not a mandatory 1000 so the breakdown showed they were to receive less prizemoney. It’s quite simple, but for some it is a case of no point ruining a story with the facts.
The other aspect those criticising a tournament might like to acknowledge is that it is not the tournament itself (putting to one side the four majors) determining the breakdown of the prize money, it is the respective tours. The tournaments come under the auspices of the respective tours and must follow their guidelines. Two examples are the distribution of ranking points and the prize money breakdown; those are set by the tours.
A player like Kostyuk needs to understand that depending on the draw size a women’s 500 level tournament has a prize money range of $757,900 for a 28 draw to $888,636 for a 56 draw. That is set by the WTA and NOT the tournament. The ATP has a different structure with a tournament like Beijing which is a 500, providing a higher amount while Acapulco has a lower prize money figure.
It is not a case of “are we really that bad” but what the respective tours allow for their tournament levels.
Highlighting the bias shown by those criticising combined tournaments is not once have they jumped on the side of the men when they have received less prize money, and there are examples of that. One of those examples is the Beijing tournament; it is a mandatory 1000 for the women and a 500 for the men.
The men get way less prize money in Beijing and that’s because it is a lower-level event compared to the women. But the do-gooders have not made an issue of that so why make a point of Rome or any other event - it is the same, just in reverse.
And for the record, it was the late Brad Drewett, head of the ATP who negotiated equal prize money at Wimbledon which saw the other majors (the US Open already had equal prize money) fall into line.
So, it is time those in the media, who look for the sensationalism of a tabloid newspaper, and some past players to stop their screaming and making an issue about a matter that has no justification to have an issue made of it.