Players are calling for changes to the WTA, including improvements that prioritize their health and well-being.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Iga Swiatek said that players “are not happy with some things” following her win Wednesday over Coco Gauff at the WTA Finals. Other players outlined their concerns in an Oct. 5 letter to WTA CEO Steve Simon, as well as during two meetings with tour leadership.
Players’ requests included higher pay, a more flexible schedule and guaranteed income for maternity leave and injuries. The signatories of the letter also objected to a planned change in rules that will govern mandatory tournament appearances. While Swiatek, along with Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, did not sign the letter, the 22-year-old star shared her thoughts while at the WTA Finals.
“I feel like everything is just based on wanting to have more and more, but not really taking care of our well-being and health,” Swiatek said. “There are some things that the WTA could change for us without any impact on the tournaments and the things that they already agreed with the tournaments.”
Simon responded to players’ concerns in a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Topics being discussed by the WTA board, tournament council and players’ council include scheduling and tournament standards – including late-night matches – as well as inconsistencies in tennis balls used throughout the season, anti-doping efforts, plus marketing and social media.
“A great deal is being done and … there is a great deal of alignment in the areas you have raised and what is being worked on,” Simon wrote, promising an update the week of Nov. 13.
“I really feel like we — me and the other players, like, Ons [Jabeur], Coco … and also some players that didn’t qualify for the finals — we’re really, really united, and we think the same way,” Swiatek said. “So most of us, even the young ones, the older ones, we all know that this is kind of not good that we’re going to have more mandatory tournaments. And so we want to really, really have an impact.”
This year’s WTA Finals are being held in Cancun, Mexico, with a temporary hard court set up on a golf course. It’s been criticized by Swiatek and other players, both for the quality and for only being available for practice right before competition began.
On Sunday, world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka called the conditions at the WTA Finals “another level of disrespect.”
The group stage of the WTA Finals continues at 5 p.m. ET Friday. The semifinals will take place on Saturday, Nov 4, while the finals are set for 7 p.m. ET Sunday, Nov. 5.