The Comm and Gender Spot

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Biggest Purse in Women's Tennis Ever

Tonight marks the final night of the women’s draw at the U.S. Open tennis championships. Facing off are number 12-seed, France’s own Mary Pierce (above) and number 4-seed, from Belgium, Kim Clijsters (at left). While this could be a great match if Mary Pierce can hang in on such an unforgiving surface, what is interesting to note is the possible historical ramifications for women’s sports.

Leading up to the U.S. Open players competed in the U.S. Open series. This was a series of tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open during which players received points for how they finished in each tournament. The ultimate winner in the point standings, for both the men’s and women’s draw, would receive the ultimate prize: double the prize money if they were to win the U.S. Open.

The men’s winner of the series and fourth-seed at the U.S. Open , Andy Roddick, shockingly exited the tournament in the first round to current 69th-ranked player in the world Gilles Muller of Luxemburg. The women’s winner of the series, through skill and determination, is Kim Clijsters. That means this evening, if she is able to prevail over Mary Pierce, Clijsters will win the largest purse in the history of women’s tennis: 2.2 million dollars.

It is also interesting to note that, due to Mary Pierce being second in the U.S. Open Series points rankings, instead of playing for 1.1 million dollars tonight she will be playing for 1.65 million dollars. Not a bad piece of change!

Back in 1973, the U.S. Open became the first tournament in sports that awarded equal money to their men’s and women’s tournament champions. Now they have the opportunity to award the largest sum ever in the history of women’s tennis.

While I tend to favor Mary Pierce as a fan, there is definitely a bit of me rooting for Kim Clijsters just so that I can see history be made.


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