Dec 8 (Reuters) - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has increased the number of women's tournaments it will organise during the first quarter of 2023 to 114, with a record $3.3 million on offer for players as part of its push for gender parity.
Women's events on the schedule from Jan. 1 to March 30 are up 15 on 2022, with a new W40 level of competition worth $40,000 in prize money that increases tournaments above the $15,000 and $25,000 entry category to 150.
The world governing body of tennis added that the total prize money on the 2023 ITF Women's World Tennis Tour - which provides entry-level and mid-level tournaments - would also increase by 10% to a record $16.5 million.
The $3.3 million total prize money on offer in the first quarter represents a 25% increase on the same period in 2022 and a 50% increase on 2019, it said.
Two-times singles Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce, who is on the ITF Board of Directors and chairs its women's player panel, said that the body was committed to gender equality and inclusion at all levels globally.
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"We've put a lot of focus on this through our Advantage All commitment designed to develop tennis as an equal opportunities sport," Pierce said in a statement.
"That's been driving a lot of investment, decisions and action in the professional game, including the creation of the W40 category of tournaments announced today.
"We've also worked hard to structure a calendar of opportunities for men and women on the ITF World Tennis Tour that makes playing and touring easier to schedule and more cost-effective for our professional players, coaches and families."
The calendar also features more than 100 events for men at the M15 and M25 levels, with over $2 million prize money on offer for the first time.
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