What is the WTA Players Council?
Women in tennis have a lot to thank for when Billie Jean King and her compatriots took the leadership role in advancing the role of women in tennis and fighting for their rights as well as their health and welfare while playing this noble sport. Within the Women’s Tennis Association, the governing body for the WTA Tour, the sub-committee of top seeds in professional women’s tennis called the WTA Players Council acts in their utmost capacity to represent the interests of female tennis players of all ages from around the world. The council mostly handles minor issues, such as changes in schedule due to weather or some other circumstance, as well as the heated disputes and behind-the-scenes grievances among athletes and stakeholders.
As of 2013, the members of the WTA Players Council include Francesca Schiavone from Italy, Serena Williams from the U.S. of A., Samantha Stosur from Australia, and Caroline Wozniacki from Denmark for the 1 to 20 Ranking Category; Andrea Hlavackova from Czechoslovakia for the 21+ Ranking Catgeory; Lucie Safarovafrom Czechoslovakia for the 21 to 50 Ranking Category; Akgul Amanmuradova from Uzbekistan for the 51 to 100 Ranking Category; and Bethanie Mattek-Sands from the U.S. of A. for the 100+ Ranking Category. These women were selected by the Women’s Tennis Association members as representatives of their respective groups.
As a sub-committee of the WTA, the Council has negotiated for an increase in prize money for women players. As of 2013, Serena Williams is the top earning female tennis player in terms of career prize money. She won nearly $12M in U.S. dollars from Singles and almost $90,000 from Doubles. Victoria Azarenka from Belarus follows with more than $6M in total year-to-date earnings.
For more than a decade, Serena Williams along with her sister, Venus, has changed the course of women’s professional tennis in the same way that Billie Jean King blazed through the history of the game as a founding mother of WTA. But, even the Williams sisters are still subject to close scrutiny coming from men in the world of tennis.
Similar to the experience of women everywhere working or competing in male-dominated fields, female tennis players no matter how superior their skills are in court against other women still receive criticisms related to their gender, especially in cases when a player had to withdraw due to injuries. Coming back in good health and losing out to an opponent, the player becomes a target for sexist remarks from the media and industry insiders. This is exactly what the WTA Players Council is fighting against through its efforts in raising the bar for professional women’s tennis.