Naomi Osaka says she’s planning to donate the prize money she earns at the Western & Southern Open this week to earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti. If she wins the tournament, her contribution will be $255,220. That’s a tidy sum, but if the winner of the men’s event in Cincinnati did the same thing, it would be an even tidier $391,240.
Since the start of the pandemic last spring, “unity” has been the most prevalent buzzword in pro tennis. With tournaments canceled, economies struggling, and the future uncertain, it made sense to think about consolidating and combining forces. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal talked about a tour merger. ATP chief Andrea Gaudenzi talked about a united governing body. Vasek Pospisil talked about a dual-gender player union. The WTA changed its tournament branding system to match the ATP’s and, ostensibly, create less confusion for fans. Gaël Monfils and Elina Svitolina even got married. This week the tours announced that they’ll co-produce a digital show, as part of the series “Tennis United: Crosscourt,” about the couple.
For the first time, this year’s big summer hard-court events, the National Bank Open in Canada and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, are billed as ATP and WTA Masters 1000 events. The WTA’s old Premier series has been jettisoned in the name of unity. Branding-wise, that’s meant to indicate that these events are of equal stature, and that they’re part of the sport’s top tier of tournaments outside of the Grand Slams. Money-wise, though, there’s still a difference: In Canada this year, the men made $3,487,915 and the women $1,835,400; in Cincinnati, the men’s purse is $4.8 million, the women’s $2.1 million.