Gender equality? Women are already tops in tennis

Maria Sharapova of Russia in action at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals tennis in Singapore.
Julian Finney | Getty Images
Maria Sharapova of Russia in action at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals tennis in Singapore.

While there are still many more men leading corporate boardrooms around the world, when it comes to tennis women are taking center stage. For the last two U.S. Opens, the women's final scored higher TV ratings than the men's final. Now there's new data by a Nielsen-like ratings company, SMG Insight, that shows the global TV and digital audience for women's tennis rose 22.5% last year compared to 2013. This year those numbers are expected to grow even more.

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Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association told CNBC, "All the credit goes to the athletes and the tournament investors." She added that social media has helped propel the sport to new heights. "Social media is a massive gift to the WTA. Over 100 million fans worldwide are engaged on social media platforms."

Women tennis players already earn more money, endorsements and TV face time than any other female athletes. The sport features three women; Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Li Na on the Forbes 100 Highest Paid Athletes list. So it may not surprise you that women's tennis is the #1 women's sport in the world.

Allaster also said the WTA expects to be even more visible in years to come, as it recently signed a record $525 million, 10-year deal with Perform to produce 2,000 televised matches starting in 2017. At least 50% of those matches will also be produced and distributed for digital platforms. She noted 50% of sports fans in China, India and Russia are consuming their sports on a mobile platform.

The next big tournament to watch is the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California which kicks off next month. Last year the tournament generated the largest growth in audience, almost doubling its viewership.