Coco Gauff is set to become the highest-paid female athlete in the world over the next 12 months and now she has opened up on the challenges of balancing sponsorship deals with her tennis career.
Gauff’s season came to an end on Saturday amid farcical scenes at the WTA Finals, with high winds, rain and a substandard court in Cancun contributing to a chaotic semi-final that saw her beaten by doubles partner Jessica Pegula.
The youngster who won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in September is now set to have a well-earned break ahead of the first Grand Slam of 2024 in Australia in January, with her business empire set to expand rapidly as she heads into the New Year.
Gauff’s status as one of the most recognisable female athletes in the world is driving sponsors to join her journey, with New Balance, Barilla, UPS and Baker Tilly among her current backers.
Now she has admitted she finds the challenge of working with sponsors difficult when she tries to focus her attention on the court.
Forbes reported that Gauff earned $8million in sponsorship deals in 2022 and that number is set to explode well beyond the $10million mark next year.
Yet she has revealed there are big demands from sponsors as female athletes look to cash in on a media landscape that is ferociously promoting equality between men’s and women’s sports.
The eagerness for sponsors to have high-profile female athletes on their books will play into Gauff’s hands, but she has admitted commitments off the court can be time-consuming.
“From a sponsorship standpoint, we’re getting some good money compared to the men. At least in my position,” she said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s more so like a contract thing. Yes, there’s still a gender gap, but I feel like now a lot of the brands want to get more women and want to be more diverse. Especially with me being a black woman.
“One of the reasons New Balance was keen to work with me from a young age was because they wanted to be more diverse. People think it’s a big gap, but I don’t think so.
“At least in tennis when it comes to sponsorships and contracts and all of that. Obviously, the prize money is something we can work on.
“Winning US Open, obviously if you win a Grand Slam you get more brands reaching out to you. These commitments take a lot.
“People think we just post a photo on the internet with that brand. People don’t realize it’s like an 8-hour or 10-hour day. Lots of times you have commitments or have to do an event.
“For me it’s just been about trying to still capitalize on the moment, but also protecting my peace and my mental health and still playing the game I love. I think my team has done a great job helping me with that.”
Gauff went on to suggest the boom in women’s sport around the world has come after major brands appreciated the financial benefits of working with elute female athletes.
“I’d say the growth in women’s sports, a lot of brands are gonna reach out to more women athletes because they see how much they can monetize from this,” she added.
“I know there are some people online who act like women’s sports isn’t a thing, but people really enjoy seeing us play.
“I think as much as we can market ourselves, and market not just tennis, but other sports in general, it’d be better for everyone. Not just in sports. Hopefully it can transcend into other places of work and in business and other things like that.
“So I’m grateful to be in that position. Especially as a black woman, doing this. I’m thankful for all the people who paved the way so I can be in this position.”