Tennis: players struggle to break even | FT Scoreboard
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It is one of the most popular sports on the planet with both men and women. So why are so many professional tennis players still struggling to make ends meet?
If you want to do this, you have to invest in yourself. It’s a big risk, but it’s also a really big reward.
It completely depends on your results. If you have a bad year, you could lose the whole year.
Who is responsible for the rules of tennis? Everyone and no one, right?
People outside the sports world think that everyone earns a lot. They are not. That is difficult.
My name is Alicia Barnett. I am 28 years old. I live with my dad when I’m not on the road. And this year I’ve been on the road more than home.
Hi, I’m Liam Broady. I’m 27 years old. I am from Stockport, UK. This is the best year of my career.
It’s hard not to be consumed with thinking a lot about the prize money, but at the end of the day you have to go to a tournament and realize that you’re investing in yourself and your tennis.
There is a lot of pressure to perform well in tournaments. If you don’t do well, you can work quite at a loss. So that’s a pretty volatile income.
At the end of the trip, you put everything together and you think, OK, I did a good job this week. And it is a bit calm. So you feel better that you made a profit or that you broke even, and you can relax a bit, but that’s an afterthought.
If I play tennis well enough then the money will take care of itself, I think. My roommate just arrived. The reason Luke is here is basically to save money.
So they are really seven different stakeholders in tennis. ITF takes care of students below the professional level and beyond. We have men’s, ATP, women’s, WTA. And then you have four big events. And those seven stakeholders work together to promote and develop the sport around the world.
Well, we’re obviously going to sabotage. We have a billion fans, you know? We’re hugely popular and have a fan base regardless of gender, but we’re extremely scattered. We have all different organizations – ATP, WTA, 4 slams and ITF – completely separate, different market access with different governance. So we don’t do a good job selling and distributing our sport.
That’s where we have to do better in tennis. We are probably the fourth or fifth most watched sport in the world and we get very little media content except for the majors. That I would like to see change.
With one billion fans, tennis is one of the most watched sports in the world, yet it accounts for less than 2% of global sports media rights, worth $44.6 billion in total. la in 2020. That means less money to flow down to players.
It is 6:45 am and it looks like a very early start in Brest in France. Let’s hope we get a seat on this train. Yes, you know, life on the road can be tough sometimes, but you’ll get used to it. And it’s a lifestyle at the end of the day. You can literally be away from home for 40 weeks a year.
You share stories of how you end up in a brothel because it’s the cheapest. Or you’re eating oats in your room rather than paying for breakfast just to save a bit of money.
Most of the bonuses will go to the top players. As you go down the ranks, it will decrease gradually. This year, in the top 500 the median bonus earnings are around $137,000 for men and $92,000 for women. If you are one of the top players, you will earn millions of dollars in bonuses as well as sponsorship deals.
Lower ranked players can get some extra help from grassroots sponsorship and free rackets, and clothing in return for social media promotion. But most of their income will come from court wins. More than a third of the women and nearly a quarter of the men in the top 500 took home less than $50,000 this year.
When I ask the players, you know, how much do you have to earn to earn it? And most of them go up to $100,000 to $150,000. That’s a lot of money.
Now, the current piece of cake, let me put it that way, the total revenue generated by the professional sport of tennis and what we distribute in prize money doesn’t allow second place to have players who can earn a living and maintain the Price.
You can’t argue with that: the best players deserve the most money. At the end of the day, tennis is a business, and you want to keep your most valuable asset happy. And the same goes for any business.
It was the top three or four men and the top three or four women that drove ticket sales.
I would argue that maybe only the best players make the most money
but maybe a little less, and they should share the difference of the rest.
It’s hard because you think, well, they’ve worked so hard and they’re so talented. They deserve to be there. And if we work hard enough, we can get there too.
All major tournaments have moved to bring more money to players who were eliminated in the early stages. And British players, for example, can also benefit from professional scholarships and tournament bonuses. But many players in the top 500 did not make this list.
They competed for most of their season in the Second Division and faced injuries, loss of positions and high costs with little guarantee of financial return.
I think you’ve seen a real concerted effort by the tennis stakeholders coming together in distributing the money so that more players can make a fair amount of money. It used to be a bit heavier, while now if you lose in the first round of a major, in singles alone, you’ll make around $50,000.
I made it to the second round of Wimbledon this year and that’s how I pay my coach and my health, and my coaches S and C next year and to be able to pay for the tour. real tennis.
At some point you have to draw a line. And beyond that, I think we have to be honest, on the Challenger Tour you should be able to at least break even and pay your expenses. But you have to be aware that this is like a university. It’s an investment for you. Then go and move on to professional tours where you get a job.
I’m currently stretching in the gym in Bratislava after a good workout. Tomorrow I meet Ilya Marchenko. He is a good player. I played with him last week as well as in Bergamo.
Obviously, we got the free hotel at Challenger’s, which is a nice bonus. I think the bonus amounted to about 1,500 euros, but of course after that, I needed to pay for the food, the trainer’s bill and his weekly fees as well. I was probably working at a loss last week. That’s how it works in most of these leagues.
I don’t think it’s possible to have a sustained tour at that level, simply because it lacks fan interest and sponsorship, broadcaster engagement, and ticket sales.
Billie Jean serves for match scores. Beautiful shot and the Wimbledon title is hers.
Billie Jean King has won 12 Grand Slam singles titles. She is even better known for fighting for equal pay for women. In the early 70s, one of her goals was this.
If you’re good enough to make a living, very few people will make it to that first list because we know we have to start small if we want to be successful. Is that our goal? Absolutely not. Our goal is more fun.
Personally, I want to figure out how we can have at least 700 or 800 people make a living. That would make me happy because it’s with the NBA. It’s Major League Baseball.
Every time I wake up in the morning, I think about it. I have my list of blessings, but then I thought, we have to do better today. We have to make it work.
In 2020, Wimbledon and other events have been canceled, but the pandemic is also an opportunity.
Honestly, maybe I’m just saying since Covid, I just started being able to make money and really save a little bit, and that’s at 26. I’ve been a professional tennis player was six years old, seven years earlier. During Covid we had a lot of tournaments in the UK, and no matches.
Tennis has come together. We have what we call a player relief fund, where we’ve given it to 750 of the world’s top players.
We moved Roland Garros to September. We had to change the calendar. We have changed the ranking. We are closer to WTA. I strongly believe that these two tools should be combined because we are stronger together.
We should not compete with each other. We should compete with the outside world, and I think that’s part of the strategy.
With the help of an advisor, we are in the process of evaluating different options for how we can create a new governance system that can help us ultimately deliver a better product for our customers. fan. Because now, if you ask yourself, who is responsible for the rules of tennis? The answer is everyone and no one, right?
If ATP and WTA merge, this gets me excited, it should be 50-50. You have to fight for each other. When you’re together, you need to have equal bonuses, equal on everything.
Meanwhile, the number one male tennis player, Novak Djokovic, co-founded the Professional Tennis Players Association. He said he wanted more transparency in tennis and improved livelihoods. Low earnings from bonuses can mean that some players never get the chance to play.
I think the damage to the sport is quite large if the wealth is not spread to the lower players. I think there are a lot of tennis players who, like I said, are incredibly talented and never get the chance to achieve their greatest tennis.
Unfortunately, there may be people who don’t live in a country where you have a strong federation that is able to subsidize your costs. And then you can really lose the talent that could be a great champion in the future.
We are working on it. Is it perfect? Absolutely not and we know it. It will never be perfect. No sport is perfect. No business is perfect. I think it’s a miracle that we’re doing so well right now.
I spent the last 10 days of the year at the Davis Cup supporting the team, practicing with them and getting them ready. Basically, I’ve actually spent the last few months traveling around Europe. It feels really good to be back home.
You may not start playing tennis for the money, but money can change the game.
I actually figured out that I spend around £12,000 a year on strings and racquets. So at the end of the day the sport is extremely expensive at the higher levels.
You always have to make sacrifices for the things you want to do. I’m really grateful that I can play tennis and travel. And I’m grateful I have that support network because, otherwise, I don’t think I would be able to.
Being in the top 200 in the world or the top 250 in the world is a remarkable achievement. I think other than 7 billion people, not many people can say the same. Obviously, if you can get good enough then you can make a living in this sport. But sometimes it’s not that easy.
A lot of kids will come up to me and say, do you think I should give it a try? I tell them to keep trying because you don’t mean that when you get older, I should have tried. You don’t want to ever say that, I should have, I could have. So I think it’s really important to give it a try because you know what? If you succeed, you are one of the elite. You have a lot of luck in life and there are opportunities that you could never have dreamed of.
This is Billie Jean King of America, the new queen of tennis.