US Open finalist Sabalenka demands equal pay for women but says ‘men are better’

US Open finalist Aryna Sabalenka has called for equal pay to be enforced across the entirety of tennis to abolish the gender pay gap once and for all. The Belarusian, who cut an emotional figure on the court after a pulsating final against the home favourite Coco Gauff, believes women deserve to be on the same payscale as male competitors due to their effort and ‘sacrifices’ made.

Flushing Meadows champion Coco Gauff earned a cheque for £2.41million ($3m) after winning her maiden Grand Slam, which is exactly the same amount as the winner of the men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev will receive.

Tennis chiefs agreed to enforce the ruling for equal pay in all four Slams – the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open – to eradicate the gender pay cap.

But at other tournaments on ATP Tour, where prize money varies, men are often paid substantially more than women.

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It is something Sabalenka wants to address going forward and the 25-year-old, when asked for her opinions on the pay gap, says women should be paid the same in all areas of sport – before admitting that she thinks men are ‘better and stronger’ in tennis.

“The only thing I can say is that I think women deserve to be paid the same as men, because we sacrifice a lot,” Sabalenka told reporters.

“We are working really hard. It’s not like we are doing nothing and they [are] paying us the same money. I think, yeah, we deserve this, to be paid the same as men’s [male players]. The level is probably different. Of course, [the] men’s are stronger.

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“Anyway, they’re going to be stronger and better than us, but we’re still putting a lot of work in, and I think we deserve to be paid the same. This is the only thing I can say right now.”

The tournament marked the 50th anniversary of equal pay, with equality campaigner and tennis icon Billie Jean King in attendance to hand out the awards.

When receiving her prize money, Gauff personally thanked King for her role in helping make it happen as she took her career prize money to an estimated £11.2m ($14m) after her success at Flushing Meadows.

Sabalenka, who was confirmed as the new world No 1 after rising above Iga Swiatek in the WTA rankings, has earned over £16m ($20m) since turning professional.

She will pocket another £1.2m ($1.5m) for finishing as the runner-up in New York, and her bank balance has been significantly boosted since improving her form on the court – having reached the semi-finals in all four Slams this year, winning her first at the Australian Open in January.

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