WTA not both­ered by tiny dif­fer­ence in Rome prize money

Malta Independent - - Sport -

Do not count the WTA among those who were ei­ther sur­prised or up­set that Si­mona Halep earned 10 eu­ros (about $12) less than No­vak Djokovic did for win­ning the Ital­ian Open.

On Tues­day, a day af­ter the two fi­nals in Rome, a spokes­woman for the women's pro­fes­sional tour — much like the head of the tour­na­ment it­self — ba­si­cally shrugged off the dis­crep­ancy, chalk­ing it up to a mat­ter of math.

"This comes down to a sim­ple round­ing sit­u­a­tion, that's all," WTA spokes­woman Amy Bin­der wrote in an email to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

A year ago, the dif­fer­ence be­tween cham­pion checks was much greater: The Ital­ian Open is a top-tier Masters 1000 event for men (2019 cham­pion Rafael Nadal earned about $1.1 mil­lion), and a sec­ond-tier Premier Five event for women (2019 cham­pion Karolina Pliskova took home about $615,000).

This time, Halep and Djokovic each col­lected a win­ner's check of about $240,000, but Djokovic got slightly more than she did.

With spec­ta­tors, a sig­nif­i­cant source of rev­enue, barred com­pletely for most of the tour­na­ment be­cause of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic — 1,000 fans were al­lowed in for the semi­fi­nals and fi­nals — the ATP and WTA re­duced prize money in Rome.

The ATP cut prize money for the men by 40%; the WTA re­duced the pot for the women by 32%.

The tours tell the tour­na­ment how much to hand out to play­ers.

"Look, all we do is or­ga­nize the tour­na­ment," tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Ser­gio Palmieri said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. "The ATP de­cides how much to award their play­ers and the WTA de­cides how much to award their play­ers. And we pay. The only thing we do is pay."

The total fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment for the men was nearly 4 mil­lion eu­ros ($4.5 mil­lion) this year in Rome, and nearly 1.7 mil­lion eu­ros (nearly $2 mil­lion) for the women.

Palmieri noted that the men's and women's tour­na­ments di­vide their prize money dif­fer­ently from round to round.

The pay dif­fer­ence comes dur­ing a week that marks the 50th an­niver­sary of Bil­lie Jean King and the other mem­bers of the Orig­i­nal 9 sign­ing $1 con­tracts to launch the women's pro tennis cir­cuit.

King has of­ten said that she was moved to form the women's cir­cuit af­ter earn­ing $600 for her 1970 Ital­ian Open ti­tle — while Ilie Nas­tase took home $3,500 for win­ning the men's tour­na­ment the same year.

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