Tennis 2023: Billionaire women’s World No. 3 Jessica Pegula calls for equal pay, Iga Swiatek

Women’s World No. 3 Jessica Pegula has called for equal pay across the ATP and WTA tours, going in to bat for future generations.

The 2023 Australian Open quarterfinalist is the daughter of Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

Bloomberg has Terry Pegula the 258th richest person in the world as of February 23, 2023 with a net worth of $US8.29b ($A12.1b).

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But the 28-year-old American isn’t doing it for herself but for the future generations of players coming into the game.

A Financial Times report from mid-last year showed the ATP Tour paid players 75 per cent more than the WTA.

It doesn’t include grand slams which are already equal.

Last year, Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas questioned whether women should get equal pay if they don’t play best-of-five sets at grand slam events.

But outside of grand slams, men and women play best-of-three and there is still a disparity.

Pegula was voted in as a member of the WTA Players’ Council last year alongside the likes of Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.

Although tennis leads the way in the women’s rich list with Naomi Osaka (#1), Serena Williams (#2), Emma Raducanu (#4), Iga Swiatek (#5), Venus Williams (#6), Coco Gauff (#7) and Pegula (#9) making the top 10 of Forbes list of World’s Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2022.

However, only Osaka (#19) and Serena (#31) made the top 50 highest paid athletes in the world.

In terms of the tennis player’s rich list, women held four of the top 10 positions.

Pegula said although tennis has made strides, women’s tennis should be equal.

“I hope obviously we can keep pushing for equal prize money at all events,” she said to Tennis Majors. “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 said that the push wasn’t new either and that the current stars were standing on the backs of generations of women.

“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,” Pegula said.

“Obviously without the past generation, we wouldn’t be here.

“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.”

And the American is not alone as World No. 1 Iga Swiatek backs the push.

After criticisms WTA stars were inconsistent in the past, Swiatek said the best players are rising to the top.

“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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