ITF Press Release, March 8, 2020
Billie Jean King, Jennie Price and Lindsay Davenport are among the female role models lending their support to the ITF’s Advantage All gender equality initiative, appearing in a new campaign video to be released on International Women’s Day (Sunday 8 March).
Through Advantage All, the ITF is committed to improving gender equality in all areas of the game to ensure tennis is a leading light in sport and society, while empowering, inspiring and enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.
Next month, the inaugural Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals will take place in Budapest, bringing together the best players from 12 nations to compete over one week for the chance to be crowned world champions and for a share of a $12million prize fund – the largest annual fund in women’s team sports. Crucially, the prize fund is equivalent to that offered per team to men playing in the Davis Cup, representing a landmark moment for the women’s game.
The ITF was proud to unveil tennis icon and global pioneer for equality and inclusion, Billie Jean King, as Fed Cup Global Ambassador in 2019 and she continues to play a key role not only in the evolution of the competition but also in driving the Advantage All agenda.
The ITF’s commitment to investing in women’s tennis extends to all levels of the sport. In 2019, the ITF World Tennis Tour hosted a record number of W60-W80-W100 women’s tournaments, with 556 taking place across 64 countries. More than $14,500,000 of total prize money was awarded to women competing on the tour.
But Advantage All is not only about delivering change on court. By championing role models, creating more leadership opportunities and challenging bias and discrimination, the strategy provides a framework to drive change off-court too.
A 2020 ITF Female Leadership Survey identified a lack of female role models as one of the greatest challenges women face in their careers. In response, the ITF will next month launch a series of eight films featuring inspirational women discussing their own personal journeys in tennis. The series covers a broad range of roles, from coaching and officiating to leadership and governance, and will feature: three-time Grand Slam winner Lindsay Davenport; Tennis Integrity Unit Chair and former Sport England CEO, Jennie Price; and Secretary General of Tennis Kenya, Wanjii Karani.
In addition to this, the ITF is actively encouraging more women to seek Commission and Committee roles and has seen a rise in female representation over the past five years from 21.3% in 2014 to 33.7% in 2019. Women account for 42% of the ITF’s own senior leadership team, however, less than 20% of the ITF Board are women. Redressing this balance remains a key area of focus, with the ITF committed to increasing representation of women on regional boards to 30% by 2024, while increasing the number of women standing for election at the next ITF Presidential and Board elections.
Through Advantage All, the ITF remains focused on developing pathways and delivering objectives at all levels of the game, including: increasing female representation in coaching and officiating roles; amending the constitution to include gender-neutral language; developing guidelines and toolkits to enable National Tennis Associations to create their own local strategies; and driving increased participation among women and girls.
ITF President David Haggerty said, “We have made great strides through Advantage All over the past couple of years, however, we must not be complacent. Increased investment and the awarding of equal prize money is extremely significant, but we must also make sure women are represented at all levels of the sport. We all have a role to play in creating a more inclusive environment, and I’m proud that tennis is continuing to lead by example.”
Fed Cup Global Ambassador Billie Jean King said, “Fed Cup is leading the way by awarding equal prize money in 2020. Through tennis, we not only have an opportunity, but also a responsibility to drive positive change in our sport and in society. It’s important to be more inclusive and be role models who inspire more women and girls to play tennis and empower more women to take up leadership roles.”