Serena Williams’ coach calls for change, saying ‘extreme levels of inequality’ in tennis is ‘revolting’

Shahida Jacobs
Patrick Mouratoglou - Serena Williams' coach PA

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ coach, has highlighted the financial struggles of players outside the top 100, saying it is time to help those players.

With tennis on a hiatus until at least July 13 due to the coronavirus, it has left players who are dependent on prize money without an income.

The elite tennis players and those ranked inside the 100 are likely to still have an income despite the current crisis as they often have sponsors.

In an open letter on Twitter, Mouratoglou explained the inequality in tennis.

“Players ranked outside the top 100 are barely breaking even and most of them are forced to fund their careers to keep playing professionally. Their lives are a financial struggle,” he wrote.

“Unlike basketball or football players, tennis players aren’t covered by fixed annual salaries. They’re independent contractors.

“They’re paying for their travels. They’re paying fixed salaries to their coaching staff, while their own salaries depend on the number of matches they win. It’s a meritocracy-based system – which is perfectly fine to me. Top players 100% percent deserve their salaries.

“However, I find it revolting that the 100th-best player of one of the most popular sports in the world – followed by an estimated one billion fans – is barely able to make a living out of it.

“Per former top 10 player Tim Mayotte ‘you would have to make about $200,000 from prize money and/or endorsements to make a living wage’.

“Per current world No. 225 Noah Rubin, ‘for somebody outside the top 50 or 100, you don’t have many sponsorships outside the court, and if you do it’s minor, you can’t live off them’.”

Mouratoglou says it is time for the tennis community to come up with solutions to help players outside the top 100 who don’t have sponsorships deals.

“What happens when players are forced out of work for an undefined period of time? Well, they don’t get paid,” he wrote.

“Some of them are giving up on their dreams and are calling it a career.

“It’s been the case for too long. Although we have done away with the long-established male supremacy in the financial field, tennis retains one of the most extreme levels of inequality in any sport.

“The thing is, tennis crucially needs them to survive. Tennis can’t live only off its elites. The tours would atrophy.”

He continued: “Because the tour is on pause for the reasons we all know, these players do not get any income, and unlike most top-100 players, they do not have any money on the side or sponsorship deals to live on.

“It is time to think about those players and help them, first in the immediate future, then in the long-term.”

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