Carolina Navarro is one of the most famous female figures in the world of padel. She has been world number 1 for 9 years and 12 times champion of Spain.
Her beginnings were in tennis, but she has been working as a professional padel player for many years now and with several titles behind her. Today she´s going to share a little time with us to tell us about her career and her experiences and what is her point of view on the visibility of women in padel and all sports in general.
As you have been in the world of padel for several years, what differences do you see in padel when you started versus now?
The reality is that at the beginning we couldn´t make a living out of padel. We had to work in other things like giving classes, managing a club, etc.
Now we can work as a professional player. The situation has improved both in competitions and in a financial way. Now more and more women players can be padel professional players although there is still a long way to go. We hope that things will continue evolving.
Keeping up with this topic, do you think there are any barriers that hinder a woman´s career in padel?
There are many women who lose money when they go to competitions, especially when the tournaments take place out of Spain because they must pay for the travel expenses. The difficulty that comes from the investment is the first barrier.
Players who reach quarterfinals onwards are the ones who can dedicate themselves professionally to padel because they´re able to get an economic reward.
Regarding these existing barriers and the difficulties that women must face when dedicating themselves to padel, how can they handle having kids, a family, a couple, etc?
It is very tough because we have a really exhausting calendar with 30 competitions around the world and you are travelling almost every month. I´m based in Madrid and it´s very difficult since I´m always on the move and I hardly spend time at home.
On the other hand, when you are a professional padel player maternity is something impossible. We have contracts with sponsors that only pay in case you are competing/playing. These contracts don´t continue when a woman becomes a mother. On top of this professional female padel players do not receive any kind of help. We have the examples of Cata Tenorio or Vanesa Alonso who have been mothers and have been forced to “give up” competition without receiving any help from the circuit organization or other institutions.
Sport is a job like any other and should benefit from the same bonuses, aids and subsidies as the rest.
Throughout your professional career, have you noticed any salary differences between men and women?
Yes, always. When I started in this world these differences were very evident and they´re still noticeable nowadays although the salary gap is slowly narrowing.
This year WPT decided to equalize the economic amounts of the prizes for both men and women, but this measure is only applicable until the end of the season.
Next year we will face salary differences again that double or even triple. We train the same, we pay the same rate to our coaches, travel expenses are the same…
Women´s padel gives a very good show and has a lot of followers. I believe this salary gap should be solved immediately and both men and women start earning the same.
In relation to the last thing you said, do you think that in the past few years women are gaining more visibility in professional padel?
Yes, we are getting more visibility. When I first started, mass media published summaries of the tournaments and men were given publicity. We women did not appear in those summaries, and it seemed we hadn´t played, something that was very hard for us.
Now both men and women have the same visibility, and this allows women to get more sponsors, especially with the growth of social media.
Therefore, we can conclude that social media have helped women to have a bigger visibility in the sport of padel. Do you think they play a fundamental role?
Yes, it is essential to exist in social media and be there. I´ve had mine for a long time now and their role is becoming more and more important. You must keep updated!
In our professional dossier, the first thing we write down is our social media reach because it is the key to get more sponsors.
We players take special care of our image in social media, we hire Community Managers to help us manage our profile, etc.
In conclusion, doing the exact same thing, we women have to face way more obstacles but we´re excited to keep up with the good work, fight for equality in the sports industry and for our work to be recognized.