Tennis talent earns a bomb of money after stunt at US Open, but is forced to refuse check: “It is unreal”

The women’s tournament at the US Open is now in the semifinals. Fiona Crawley (21) did not get that far. However, the American was in the news this week for a different reason.

The 21-year-old Crawley is only the current number 729 in the world rankings, but is normally going to make a serious leap forward. She surprisingly struggled through the qualifications in New York and thus qualified for the main draw of the last grand slam tournament of the year. In the first round, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova proved too strong in two sets. The Russian veteran won 6-2 and 6-4. Crawley also failed in the first round in doubles.

However, the American was left with $ 81,000 (more than 75,000 euros) for her performance at the US Open. A hefty sum for someone with career earnings of 9,990 dollars (9,258 euros).

“I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was five years old,” said Crawley after qualifying. “I was old enough then to realize what the US Open is. I was in shock when I realized I had been placed. Even after a night’s sleep I was still not feeling well.”


But the American ultimately has nothing left of that for her enormous amount. A choice – albeit largely forced – she made herself. Crawley has student-athlete status in the US as she plays for the North Carolina tennis team. That’s why she can’t earn more than $10,000 on a season and only if that money comes from sponsorship. Since Crawley still wants to play tennis for the Tar Heels next year, she had no choice but to refuse the US Open prize money.

“I would never accept that money and so my eligibility risk,” the American said in a response. “But… I have worked very hard here and it all feels a bit unreal. I am not allowed to accept money while student-athletes in basketball and American football are making millions from certain NIL deals.”

Since last year, college athletes can earn money from their market value. That was far from the case, much to the frustration of the community. They were considered amateurs and therefore not allowed to earn a dollar from their performances until they signed a professional contract. That changed with the introduction of NIL, the abbreviation for Name, Image, and Likeness. In short: the value of an athlete, who can receive financial compensation for this. That makes Crawley’s decision all the more painful: she has lost the money she earned from a sporting achievement while others are taking money because they are extra-sportingly popular.

“Rules are rules,” Crawley said in an interview with ABC On. “I stand by my earlier words, namely that I actually deserve this prize money. But I’m not going to risk anything else. I am now back on the North Carolina campus and I feel great. I do have a bit of an identity crisis because you work so hard for something and can’t be rewarded for it. I didn’t realize it at first, until I sat down and suddenly saw that amount appear. In the end, I’m just doing my job. I invest a lot of time in my sport. Within a year I can earn money with tennis, I just hope that this rule will be changed in the future.”

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