Big Money 

By Jane Voigt

October 23, 2013 -- There's something off about this. Players that do well -- win a lot -- have less down time. The women in Istanbul at the year-ending championships have the best records for 2013, and they remain on court for an additional week because of that. Punishment or pleasure?  

Pleasure.

Although work hours are long and flights crowded, these athletes are serious about their careers. So much so that they push on all fronts human: physical, mental, and spiritual. Their records are stellar; and, their commitments are obvious. They have to love the game to maintain their excellence. 

One motivation … big money.

The WTA Year-ending tournament, which is officially named The TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, is a cash cow in all its marketing glory. Total prize money awarded this week will tip the scales at $6 million USD. That's a cool million per day. If one woman would be so lucky to go undefeated over the six days, she would win $2,145,000. Two alternates, who sit in the wings, earn $50,000 for showing up and potentially much more if they replace a player. Here is the breakdown, according to the WTA, of all the iterations. 

Serena Williams won $2.6 million for winning the U. S. Open plus another million because she won the U. S. Open Series as well. That's $3.6 million total for the two weeks. In Paris she took home a touch under $2 million.

The other Majors are close on the heels of The U. S. Open. Marion Bartoli won $2,437,600 USD for her Wimbledon triumph. And, Victoria Azarenka pocketed $2,350,610 for her second Australian Open win. (The Australian Open will boost its prize money for 2014 by 10%, Reuters reported.)

The point is … these year-ending tournaments extend the season for those who worked the hardest. But, hey, the $glory$ is a dandy by-product. 

Billie Jean King is the person to thank. She started the WTA in 1973, along with eight fellow rebels. She accelerated the earnings of women tennis players when she took on Bobby Riggs in The Battle of the Sexes, and won. She is a monument to women's equal pay not only in tennis but in all life's ventures. 

Women slogging golf bags around beautiful vistas earn a measly amount annually in comparison to what the women in Istanbul will earn over six days.

Total prize money for the U. S. Women's Open Golf Championships was $3,250,000, in 2013. This year's winner, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, walked off the course with $585,000. France's equivalent golf tournament, The Evian Championships, handed out $3,250,000, also, but the winner took home $487,500. That's because it paid more to those farther down the leader board. 

Tiger Woods, though, is the highest paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes. 

The WNBA is worse, much worse. Maurice Garland, writing for BlackEnterprise.com, shined a harsh light on the discrepancies between professional women's basketball players' earnings and those lucky enough to be born male and make the NBA. 

"'Gilbert Arenas, a washed up NBA player who hasn't come close to playing even half a season since 2007 and isn't even on a team roster this year, will still earn $45 million over the next two years because of a guaranteed $111 million contract he signed in 2008.'"

The average 2012 salary for a WNBA player was $72,000, with rookies taking home half that amount. 

Golf and professional women's basketball wish they had a Billie Jean King, and it's not too late. 

Today's results from the Sinan Erdem stadium in Istanbul:
Serena Williams defeated Agnieszka Radwanska 62 64
Jelena Jankovic defeated Victoria Azarenka 64 63
Na Li defeated Sara Errani 63 76(5)  


© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013