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Alize Cornet: WTA “in survival mode” with China tournaments canceled
The women’s tennis tour has played just two events since the rescheduled Roland Garros, in Linz and Ostrava.
November 12, 2020
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Alize Cornet is concerned about the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the WTA tour, specifically on smaller tournaments and lower-ranked players.
The women’s tennis tour has played just two tournaments since the rescheduled Roland Garros, in Linz and Ostrava. Its schedule has been decimated by the cancellation of all events in Asia—especially China, which holds the WTA Finals, Wuhan Premier 5 tournaments, and several others.
That has had a big effect on the tour’s bottom line, according to Cornet.
“It hurts a lot, especially because we have a lot, lot of money in Asia,” she told L’Equipe.
“If I understand correctly, the Masters [WTA Finals] is 50 percent of the WTA’s income. It’s colossal. Since the Masters is not taking place, and Asia has shut its door until March, we are in survival mode.”
The lack of tournaments has also left WTA players on the sidelines, while ATP players have had events every week.
“It hurts to look at the schedules,” she said. “When we talk about male-female equality, it makes me laugh.”
But the 30-year-old Frenchwoman pointed to players further down the rankings as facing even tougher challenges. And even tournaments that are being played currently have little or no ticket sales, so players are also receiving less prize money.
“The small women’s tournaments are not very profitable and since everyone has it hard it’s super complicated to keep these tournaments going,” said Cornet. “The prize money of the 250s [Internationals] is down 25 to 10 percent, it already was not huge.
“Our biggest chance is to play the Grand Slams, because that is where it is down the least and that is funding our season. But for that you have to be Top 100. I am concerned about those who are not Top 100 and depending on the smaller tournaments.”
The WTA has had large tournament prize-money increases in recent years, including a record $4.75 million for the winner of last year’s WTA Finals. But the cancellations in China represent a drop of $30 million in total, according to figures from the New York Times, along with other tournament reductions. The WTA tour is also likely to experience a drop in its own income, which had reached $104 million.
Both will take a while to recover, according to Cornet.
“It’s too bad, because the WTA had done a really good job in recent years. It’s a big blow. It’s going to take years,” she said.