It must be the silly season.

The idea, floated by the YWCA, of Serena or Venus Williams - or whoever wins the ASB Classic women's event in the first week of January - banking the same amount as the winner of the men's tournament the following week, betrays a misunderstanding of current tennis economics.

Leaving aside the obvious fact that the two tournaments are separate events run by separate organisations that set their own prize money levels, it's also not feasible given current market conditions in the sport.

The YWCA launched their #matchthemoney campaign on Saturday, calling for the organisers of the ASB Classic tournaments to close a pay gap that is "one of the biggest in the country."


It's a clever ploy by the YWCA, using the uber-famous Williams sisters imminent presence in Auckland as a hook to get the widest possible publicity for their wider pay parity campaign.

Pay Parity is an ongoing issue in New Zealand, and any number of surveys indicates that the gap has yet to close in this country, and on average women earn 14 per cent less an hour than men.

The situation in New Zealand is better than in many other nations - take a look at the situation in Asia or South America - but nowhere near where it should be.

But it would have been good if YWCA CEO Monica Briggs and her colleagues had done even a smattering of research, instead of tossing out an idea that looks like it has been hatched over a lunch break.

If they had bothered to investigate, they would have stumbled across a couple of salient points that quickly unravel their arguments.

If the WTA (women's) tour started matching the prize money paid out by the ATP (men's) tour, there might be short term gain for long term pain.

The WTA tour would get into financial trouble, meaning there would be less professional tennis events for women. Hardly an ideal result.

Broadly speaking, each tennis tour pays what it can afford, as a dividend of broadcasting, sponsorship, merchandise and ticketing money.


For a variety of reasons, the ATP tour generates more revenue than the WTA tour at the moment; hence it is able to offer more prize money at most of its events throughout the year.

Until that changes - and it may well one day - the status quo will remain.

Tennis is also a strange sport to target, given it is much closer to pay parity than almost other any sport, including equal pay at the biggest tournaments of the year, notably the four grand slams.

Think about this - seven of the top 10 highest earning sportswomen on the planet in 2015 were tennis players, including four of the top five.

In contrast, look at the earnings disparity in football for example, or basketball or cricket. What about the gender pay imbalance in rugby, which received considerable airtime around the time of the Rio Olympics?

Even in golf, where Lydia Ko banked considerably less for winning a major than her male equivalent.

And whichever way you spin it, Serena, Venus and all of their female colleagues do very well out of each grand slam fortnight, given they play best of three set matches compared to the men's best of five.

In winning the 2016 Wimbledon title, Serena Williams banked GBP 133,333 ($238,112) per set played, while men's champion Andy Murray took home GBP 86,960 ($155,208) per set played.

It was a similar story at this year's Australian Open, with Angelique Kerber earning A$125,000 ($130,346) per set played while Novak Djokovic trousered A$83,330 ($86,894) per set played.

The YWCA should continue to attack the issue - it's a very important one - but perhaps find a different sport to target.