In a world first for a major event in the sport, U.S. Squash has announced that the prize purse for the 2013 Delaware Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships will provide equal prize money for both the women's and men's events.
Leading the way in the industry, and ahead of many other professional sports yet to achieve parity for both genders, the prize money for the women will be raised to $115,000 to make it equal to the men's fund.
The women's draw will also be increased to 32 players from a previous 16 player draw, now in line with the men's draw, providing greater opportunity for female professional players to compete in the World Series event.
"It is a top priority for us to promote opportunities for girls and women to play squash," said Kevin Klipstein, CEO of U.S. Squash. "Offering equal prize money is one way we are able to help more female squash players compete at the highest level and to their full potential."
Sports icon and social justice pioneer Billie Jean King said: "Any time you can achieve equality in any field of endeavour - be it in sports or in life - everyone wins.
This announcement is so much more about the message than the money and I am thrilled another U.S. championship event has stepped up and done the right thing."
Klipstein added: "In the US we have the same number of girls playing as boys and a nearly equal number of women and men competing in college. The women's tour has an incredible, dynamic and entertaining World Champion and recent U.S. Open Champion in Nicol David. The women's tour is equally as significant and competitive as the men's tour, and the opportunities for both genders should be equivalent."
This year's prize purse will total $230,000, paying $115,000 to each division, making it among the largest prize money events worldwide.
Last year the U.S. Open offered the highest prize money in the history of the event and attracted all of the world's top ten men and women players. The event continues to grow in stature and the competition intensified with this latest raise, becoming one of the most prominent tournaments in the world, and one of the most popular amongst the world's best players.
In professional sports, tennis has become the role model for prize money parity since the U.S. Open in tennis did so in the early 1970's.
The US Squash breakthrough is also hailed by the World Squash Federation: "This initiative for the US Open signals clearly how seriously we take the promotion of our top women athletes alongside their male counterparts," said WSF President N Ramachandran. "Our United States federation deserves great congratulations."
The 2013 Delaware Investments U.S. Open will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia from 9-18 October.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty images
photo Getty Images