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‘I used to be naive’ – Shapovalov



DENIS Shapovalov penned an honest letter for the Players Tribune ‘The Gender Gap Should Not Exist’ where he called for equality in tennis.

  Gender equality remains to be a polarising question in the world and it’s no different in sports. There have been more and more calls for full equality in sports because we don’t have it. Denis Shapovalov voiced his thoughts on the matter in a column written for the Players Tribune where he called for equality in sports.

  I used to be naive about tennis. When I started out, I kind of assumed that male and female pros were treated the same way. It just made sense, you know? I mean, why would it be any different?

  One of the glaring differences between the ATP and WTA is the prize money with it being equal only at four events of the numerous we have every year. Calls for making it fully equal have been made yet there is very little that’s been done towards that. Shapovalov was himself unaware of it.

  Then I met my girlfriend, Mirjam Björklund, and she really opened my eyes. She’s a pro tennis player as well. Last year she qualified for a WTA 250. I said to Mirjam, “Oh, great! You’ll get at least $7,000 just to be in the main draw. She just looked at me like I was completely new to tennis. I’ll never forget it.

Shapovalov could not believe that women earned seven times less than men for achieving the same thing. She would only get about $1.000 for that which left Shapovalov stunned. World No. 30 in the ATP Rankings called the situation damaging to tennis.

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  I’m not sure everyone realizes how damaging this is for tennis. It’s so unfair. It doesn’t make sense at all. And it matters, because the expenses are crazy in tennis.

  It’s become an issue that’s really close to Shapovalov’s heart. Not only because he has a direct connection to it through his girlfriend but also because of his personal beliefs. He is a huge believer in equal opportunity for everybody.

  Maybe I’m being cynical, but I think some people might think of gender equality as mere political correctness. Deep down they don’t feel that women deserve as much you know? And that’s terrible. You should be given the same opportunities regardless of gender, color, race … regardless of anything. This is actually kind of personal to me, and not just because of Mirjam. You see, my mother, Tessa, used to be a tennis player too.

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