Iga Swiatek says female tennis players are united as they seek improvements from the WTA


CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Iga Swiatek says she and other women’s tennis players are more united than in the past as they seek changes on the WTA Tour, including improvements to prioritize the athletes’ well-being.

“We are not happy with some things,” Swiatek, a three-time Grand Slam champion who was ranked No. 1 until September, said Wednesday after improving to 2-0 at the WTA Finals by beating U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff 6-0, 7-5 in round-robin action.

Some players recently outlined various concerns in a letter to WTA CEO Steve Simon and during two meetings with tour leadership. Among the topics were a guaranteed income and coverage for maternity leave and injury absences, along with an objection to a planned change in rules governing mandatory tournament appearances.

“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,” said Swiatek, a 22-year-old from Poland. “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.”

In a letter Simon wrote back to the players to address some of their concerns — and obtained by The Associated Press — he said working groups with representatives from the WTA Board, tournament council and players’ council “are in the process of reviewing scheduling and tournament standards” and recommendations are expected to be made this month.

Among the topics, Simon wrote, is late-night matches — a growing source of frustration for players.

He said other areas being looked at include inconsistency in tennis balls over the course of a season; anti-doping and integrity; marketing and social media efforts.

Simon wrote that “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,” and promised to provide 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.”

She was asked about the lack of spectators at her victory over Gauff — and Swiatek made clear that she noticed, blaming the late decision to hold the tour’s season-ending championship in Cancun ( the site wasn’t announced until September ) and adding that “the marketing should be better.”

The temporary hard court, set up on a golf course, has been criticized by Swiatek and other players, both for its quality and for only being available for pre-tournament practice right before competition began.

After her victory Sunday, No. 1-ranked Aryna Sabalenka called the conditions “another level of disrespect.”

That’s been a common sentiment during the WTA’s marquee event, where the sport’s leading players have been outspoken.

“I feel like we can use our voice now,” Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova said Wednesday, “just to show people what’s happening here.”


AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

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