American tennis star Jessica Pegula is pushing for equal pay for women in tennis – despite being a billionaire herself. Tennis has made significant strides in the last half-century, gaining equal prize money at all four Grand Slams and leading the way as the women’s sport that produces the most recognised and well-compensated female athletes in the world.
Tennis has the smallest gender pay gap in sports, but some women players still earn some 34.32 per cent less than their male counterparts, according to a study by money.co.uk last year.
In 2019, Forbes published a list of the highest-paid athletes in the world and Serena Williams was the only woman to make it into the top 100 – something that Pegula wants to see the end of.
Intriguingly, Pegula’s net worth is higher than Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic combined.
Pegula has earned over £5.6m ($6.9m) during the course of her career, but this is nothing in comparison to the vast business empire controlled by her father.
Her 71-year-old dad, Terry Pegula, has an estimated worth of £5.5bn ($6.7bn) and the tennis star stands to inherit a considerable amount of this.
Despite that wealth, though, Pegula is fixated on ensuring that women are all paid the same as men in tennis moving forward.
The world No 3, who is a member of the WTA Player’s Council, believes that increased exposure is the key to more success.
She said: “I hope obviously we can keep pushing for equal prize money at all events. Being on TV more. I feel like as far as me being on player council, we already tried to do a lot of that.
“I think we’re starting to see slowly, more of it, especially with United Cup, the response of everyone wanting to see men and women playing on the same court, on the same team.”
The billionaire heiress added her stance means that women in 20 years won’t have to go through to worry about not earning the same as male players.
She concluded: “That’s always what we’re pushing for, is just for people to appreciate us playing and wanting to see us play and getting more exposure, then obviously inspiring the next generation of girls that want to do the same thing.
“Obviously without the past generation, we wouldn’t be here, as well. I think it’s always just to keep inspiring each generation because those are the next people. That’s also who we’re fighting for. Some of us are older, as well, on the council. We’re fighting for prize money for people in 20 years.”