Canada's Denis Shapovalov calls for equal pay between men and women in pro tennis

Canada's Denis Shapovalov says the gender gap in professional tennis should not exist.

Shapovalov made the plea for gender equality in his sport on Tuesday in an article posted to the Players' Tribune. He said he was motivated to advocate for equal pay between men and women after comparing his experience on the ATP Tour to that of his girlfriend Mirjam Bjorklund, a player on the WTA Tour.

"One example, in their Challenger level they don't have tournaments with hospitality. They don't have free accommodation, which in the men's, it's completely normal," said Shapovalov, who's ranked No. 30 on the men's tour, in a video accompanying the article.

"Why is it different? It just doesn't make sense."

More shocking to Shapovalov was the disparity between prize money on the two tours.

The product of Richmond Hill, Ont., recalled a conversation with Bjorklund when he assumed she'd make US$7,000 for appearing in the main draw of a WTA 250 tournament, the standard for an event of that size on the men's tour.

She explained that she would be making a fraction of that, closer to $1,000.

"I'm like 'what are you talking about? How is that possible?'" said Shapovalov. "She was playing (Daria Saville) and the stadium was packed and they were playing for like $1,000 or something to make the second round. It's such a small amount.

"It was a crazy intense match, the quality was unbelievable

"I don't understand how, how the men they win a match, you're getting $25,000 whatever and the women they're winning the same match and they're getting $1,000 and the people are the same watching it."

Shapovalov said he wanted to speak out ahead of International Women's Day on Wednesday.

He is the 25th seed at the Indian Wells Masters tournament this week and is scheduled to play on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2023.

The Canadian Press