“I hope we can keep pushing for equal prize money” – Pegula, Swiatek want the WTA Tour to continues its push for equality

When it comes to the future of the WTA Tour, the influential players believe that securing equal prize money across all levels of events is something worth fighting for.

Jessica Pegula, 2022 Jessica Pegula, 2022 | © Zuma / Panoramic

In 2023, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the WTA Tour is both a cause for celebration and a reminder that the work is not finished yet. The Tour has made significant strides in the last half-century, gaining equal prize money at all four Grand Slams and leading the way as the women’s sport that produces the most recognised and well-compensated female athletes in the world.

Asked to give their vision for the future of the WTA Tour, Jessica Pegula and Iga Swiatek echoed the same sentiments on Tuesday in Dubai: they want a truer representation of equality, and they want to inspire the game to grow globally so that there is a greater opportunity for more women to succeed, both on the court and off.

Pegula – More TV time, more prize money

World No 3 Pegula, a member of the WTA Player’s Council, believes that increased exposure is the key to more success.

“I hope obviously we can keep pushing for equal prize money at all events,” she said. “Being on TV more. I feel like as far as me being on player council, we already tried to do a lot of that. I think we’re starting to see slowly, more of it, especially with United Cup, the response of everyone wanting to see men and women playing on the same court, on the same team.”

Pegula believes that the challenge is getting the women’s game the same type of exposure that the men receive. It’s not always as easy as it looks.

“That’s always what we’re pushing for, is just for people to appreciate us playing and wanting to see us play and getting more exposure, then obviously inspiring the next generation of girls that want to do the same thing. Obviously without the past generation, we wouldn’t be here, as well,” she said, adding: “I think it’s always just to keep inspiring each generation because those are the next people. That’s also who we’re fighting for. Some of us are older, as well, on the council. We’re fighting for prize money for people in 20 years.”

Iga Swiatek at the 2023 United Cup
Iga Swiatek at the 2023 United Cup Image Credit: Zuma / Panoramic

Swiatek – WTA has a unique product, and the quality is consistently high

World No 1 Swiatek is the face of the WTA at the moment, and she is delivering what many critics expected the tour to lack after Serena Williams’ retirement: a consistent winner.

Swiatek says the tour is consistent at the top, and that provides fans with a chance to warm up to the players and their personalities.

“Right now, after a couple of years of hearing that we’re not consistent, we are actually consistent,” she said. “There are many top players who are playing great on most of the tournaments. I think fans can choose their favorite and really cheer for us.”

Swiatek has other ideas as well. She wants the tour to expand and attract more fans world-wide, and doesn’t see why it shouldn’t happen. She also believes a high-profile venue for the WTA Finals would be a plus for the tour.

Jessica Pegula at the WTA Guadalajara Open
Jessica Pegula at the WTA Guadalajara Open Image Credit: AI/Reuters/Panoramic

“For sure I would like to see WTA kind of, I don’t know, expanding business-wise, getting more popular, kind of cutting the difference between WTA and ATP in terms of prize money differences, and also attracting fans as well,” she said. “Our tennis bring the same emotions as men’s tennis, so I think there is something you can find in women’s tennis that you’re not going to find on the ATP.

“There are many things I would like for the WTA to kind of explore and change. Maybe getting a nice place for the WTA Finals.”

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