The iconic former World No.1 tennis player Billie Jean King has urged the world’s top female squash stars to keep up the hard work as the attempts to reach parity in prize money across the professional ranks continues.
Speaking as a keynote speaker at the Women’s Leadership Luncheon held earlier this week at the University Club of Chicago, King – a vocal advocate for gender equality and parity in prize money for women – praised the sport’s aims to reach parity in prize money, with five World Series tournaments, including the PSA Dubai World Series Finals, offering equal prize money across both the Men’s and Women’s events.
“I think it's amazing to have parity between the men and women at these top tournaments, but it's also important that the players understand why that has happened,” said King.
“Reaching total equality is an unbelievable commitment and it will take a lot of work. The only way the women will get to parity is to work extra hard – to do extra. They have to prove they are just as good at entertaining as anyone else and they need to believe in themselves that they can make this happen – envision it, dream and work every day towards that dream.”
King, 73, is one of the most inspirational sportswomen of all time and claimed 39 Grand Slam titles throughout her professional tennis career, while her off-court exploits saw her help to launch the Women’s Tennis Association and start the Women’s Sports Foundation.
During her speech, King extolled the virtues of getting involved with all aspects of the sport, saying: “They (women) also need to stay committed to the sport in other ways. Make sure they keep promoting the sport all the time.
“There are so many people behind the scenes making an event happen and players sometimes have no idea.
“I think players should spend a week a year doing that work, seeing what goes into an event behind the scenes. Seeing how the hotels are booked, working the the logistics people, doing the work the media team do.”
King’s speech came the day before it was announced that the 2018 Windy City Open is set to become the most lucrative World Series tournament in the history of the PSA World Tour, with a $500,000 prize fund on offer, split equally across the Men’s and Women’s events.
Two years ago, the Windy City Open became the second World Series tournament to offer equal prize money, following on from the U.S. Open, which committed to equal pay in 2013.
Since then, the Tournament of Champions (2016) and the upcoming British Open have also committed to parity, with the season-ending PSA Dubai World Series offering $160,000 each in both the Men’s and Women’s tournaments.
- The PSA World Tour's biggest-ever season is showing more than 450 live games on SQUASHTV.
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