WOMEN’S tennis is facing a financial impasse after a number of top 20 stars wrote t the WTA recently demanding ‘minimum wages’ for players.

Among what many believe to be a long list of demands, players are looking for a guaranteed minimum pay where the top 100 players will be paid $500,000.

Those between 101 and 175 earn $200,000 and lastly, the 176 and 250 bands receive $100,000.

That’s $50 million a year for the top 100, plus $15 million for the second tier and $7.5 million for the 175-250 ranked players.

In total $72.5 million per annum minimum guaranteed.

Players though are not employees of either the WTA or the ATP – or of any event. They are self employed sports men and women, most operating as independent businesses.

There has been no response as yet from the WTA – but this push comes after the richer and far greater performing ATP announced its financial security program two months ago.

Nice idea if all things were equal – but they are not – as there is a massive disparity in prize money between men and women, with WTA players making a lot less annually compared to men.

Why? Because the ATP is a better commercial body, getting bigger sponsorship and tournament fees from hosts than the WTA, combined with the fact that men’s tennis, especially Slams and major events are way more commercially attractive than the women’s equivalent.

Currently, only the four Slams and a select few ATP/WTA 1000 events offer equal prize money to men and women.

It may seem laudable to want equal pay – but tennis is not equal – the ATP a far superior management organisation than the WTA, outside of Slam and 1000 events.

So where does this guaranteed money come from?

Sponsors? TV rights? Neither will pay more without a return on investment – which leaves us with an impasse that currently looks likely to continue for some time to come.

Selling out to the Saudis may bring extra revenue – but at what cost?

The top 10 players in the world in 2023 amassed $195.7 million from the game (source Forbes). Perhaps they could make a donation to the cause?

NOVAK Djokovic and his PTPA (Professional Tennis Players Association) had this to say earlier this year about player prize money:

“According to some statistics, we are number three or four in the world in terms of viewership. 1.3 billion people are watching us. And yet only 400 people – men and women – can make a living from this sport.”

On what format is this statistic based?

Tennis is very seasonal – the four slams attract big international audiences, everything else doesn’t, often appearing on little known subscription-based digital channels that offer very little exposure to potential sponsors or advertisers.

MEANWHILE, Dkjovic has accused the game’s authorities of putting the health of players in danger by their decision to use different balls for each event.

Djokovic told Sportal the changing of tennis balls in different tournaments is a huge threat to players, contributing to an increase in shoulder and wrist injuries.

“There is certainly a connection between frequent injuries of the wrist, elbow, and shoulder with ball changes,” Djokovic said last week.

“I am absolutely in favour of choosing one ball with which we will play all ATP tournaments. It is different and more difficult with the Grand Slams because each of the biggest tournaments we play, negotiates separately which sponsor they will have for the balls, but this also happens on the ATP tour.

“Every tournament has the right to negotiate. However, we simply have to find a way to unify, so that in each category on the ATP tour we have one ball to play with, depending on the surface.

“I support the players complaining and asking the ATP to find a way to resolve it. They have to find a solution.

“When you have tennis players from the top who are trying to reach you in public and say ‘Hey, let’s talk about that topic,’ you have to make a statement.”

An injured Rafa Nadal bows out in the second round in Melbourne in January. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

SUMMER is on its way Down Under and it came as no surprise last week when Tennis Australia Boss Craig Tiley popped up on TV to promote the 2024 Australian Open.

And the announcement that Rafa Nadal wants to make possibly one last visit to Melbourne, was a perfect PR gift for Tiley and his organisation.

Nadal, 37, will play Melbourne again in January, quashing rumours he was about to retire from the sport.

“We can reveal exclusively here that Rafa will be back,” Tiley told the Today show.

“He’s been off for most of the year, and in talking to him over the last few days he confirmed he will be back, which we’re really excited about. That’s awesome.”

It will be Nadal’s first action on the ATP Tour since he crashed out of the Australian Open in January with a hip injury.

Nick Kyrgios and girlfriend Costeen Hatzi at Melbourne Park last year.Photo: Scott Barbour/TENNIS AUSTRALIA

ANOTHER comeback, according to Tiley, will see local hero Nick Kyrgios back on court.

Tiley said Kyrgios still had work to overcome a knee injury, but was confident he would play.

“The one thing great about Nick – he’s very transparent and very open about what he’s feeling and what he thinks … I personally believe in the communication that he’s motivated to come back and play in January,” Tiley said.

“He loves playing, he loves playing here in front of his crowd, and he knows everyone wants him to play.”

Kyrgios missed Wimbledon with a wrist injury while the knee issue has kept him out of other Slams.

Others back for the event include past winners Angelique Kerber (2016), Naomi Osaka (2019 and 2021) and 2018 champion Caroline Wozniacki.

Serena Williams makes an entrance in a bizarre outfit at the US Ooen in 2022. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

WHY Serena Williams is to receive a Fashion Icon award at the 2023 CFDA Fashion Awards next month, is beyond us at Sunday Serve.

The awards ceremony will take place at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on November 6.

Wiliams, known later in her career for some bizarre on-court outfits, is the first athlete to receive the award, which has been given to such people as Lenny Kravitz, Zendaya, Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell, Franca Sozzani, Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams and Rihanna.

Garbine Muguruza has no intention of an early return to tennis. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

AND finally…

Quote of the week comes from Spanish star Garbine Muguruza, who last week stated publicly she had no intention of returning to the courts anytime soon.

In an interview with Women’s Health Magazine, the player said:

“I am living this break very happily since it was something that my body and my mind needed. So, I am really enjoying these moments.

“As of today, I have no intention. My plan right now is to sleep, rest, be with my loved ones, make up for lost time.”

Her comments saw a flurry of reaction in Twitter (X) with one standing out: “This sport is lonely & tough.”