Serena Williams’ skipping Indian Wells could have potentially cost her more than $3 million


Serena WilliamsA reader suggested an interesting article from Los Angeles Times, which analyzes how much Serena and Venus Williams are compromising because of not entering the BNP Paribas Open, and also how much Maria Sharapova is missing for playing doubles only. Here we’ll focus on world No.1 Serena Williams only.

The annual prize money is increased from $63.6 to $84.4 million. The Top 10 players who participate in all four premier tournaments, one of which is the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, will share a bonus pool, worth $1.9 million. Player with season-ending No.1 ranking will earn $400,000.

However, if you don’t play in one of the four events, for whatever reason, you get no money and no ranking points. Plus, you will be fined for skipping the tournament unless you participate in a tour-mandated public relations event. Were Serena Williams to skip her makeup duty, she will be fined $75,000.

Here’s how LA Times sums it up mathematically:

If Serena finishes No. 1, her first loss would be the $400,000 from the bonus pool. If she decides to ignore the makeup appearance, that would be another $75,000. By not playing, she misses a chance at first-place money here of $700,000. Were she to team with Venus and win the doubles, that would be $118,500, her half of $237,000. That’s $1,293,500.

Then, there are endorsements. One WTA official speculated that Serena’s Nike contract, just as one example, “might have as much as two million dollars of incentive money for ending up No. 1.” Winning at Indian Wells is worth 1,000 ranking points. Serena, who now leads No.2 Dinara Safina by 422, gets zero.

So, conceivably, Serena’s rejection of Indian Wells could have cost her more than $3 million, or about 13% of her career tennis winnings of $23 million.

Well, it’s great when you have so much money to lose. 🙂 (photo: Ralf Reinecke)


  1. I read this article, but I dismissed it because there were too many “if”.

    “If she played doubles”. Lets assume that Serena would have played at Indian Wells, that doesn’t automatically mean that she would had played doubles.

    “If she decides to ignore the make up appearance”. So what IF she does not.

    Of course this is assumming that Serena would have won the tournament; she could have been injured and force to pulled out, maybe she could have been upset by none other than her sister Venus.

    I don’t like hypotheticals.

  2. so stupid.
    serena should take legal action.
    you cant expect serena to play after being abused. her performance would be crappy if she was forced to play, the nerves, she doesnt want to play. i think the rules a little dumb

  3. Carlos, I agree, there are too many ifs, but still, I find the article interesting.

    Jacob, the rules of the WTA Tour are not perfect, but the resolution of the situation with the Williams sisters is quite satisfactory, I think.

  4. Who cares how much so could lose!!!!

    The cost would pale in comparison to the loss of dignity she would suffer from allowing an unapologetically racist tennis community make money by showcasing her talent there. Hooray for you Serena, don’t bow unless to thank a more deserving crowd who has jus watched you take another title!


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