It’s not just the grass courts and the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon that are throwbacks to the past. It’s the payscale, too.
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Wimbledon remains the only Grand Slam tournament that pays the men’s champion more than the women’s winner.
The All England Club announced Tuesday that the men’s winner this year will receive $1.170 million and the women’s champion $1.117 million, a difference of $53,000. It’s a four percent increase in British currency.
The French Open announced earlier this month that it would pay the men’s and women’s champions the same amount for the first time, although the overall prize fund is bigger for the men. The two other Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian and U.S. Opens — have paid equal prize money for years.
Okay, so 96% is better than 70%, and it’s a bit hard to cry for millionaires whose shortfall for one tournament is way more than most people make in a year, but there’s still a disparity. Let’s see how the Wimbledon folks justify this.
”This issue is one of a judgment on fairness,” All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said. ”We believe that what we do at the moment is actually fair to the men as well as to the women.
”There is a lot of data around and in the end, you have to make a judgment and our judgment is made on the marketplace and it’s based on what we believe to be fair.”
How so, Tim?
Phillips said because top men rarely play in Grand Slam doubles events, they earn less overall than women. In addition, the men play best-of-five set matches, while the women play best-of-three.
”It just doesn’t seem right to us that the lady players could play in three events and could take away significantly more than the men’s champion who battles away through these best-of-five matches,” Phillips said. ”We don’t see it as an equal rights issue.”
Hm. Well, who sets the rules on how many sets in a match?
Oh. That would be you, Tim. So, Tim, why aren’t the “lady players” playing five sets, like the men?
Phillips said he didn’t think it would be beneficial for women to play best-of-five sets.
”Physically they could, yes,” he said. ”Our argument does go wider. One of the difficulties we have in defending our position is that we are talking effectively to the top women players.”
Well, Tim, if you’re having that much trouble defending your position, why continue to hold it? You’re not concerned that their lady parts might be affected by playing five sets, are you?
Phillips said the WTA Tour paid 63 percent less to players in an average week than the ATP Masters Series did.
”Whereas we’re 87 percent,” Phillips said. ”So it seems to me we are much closer to equal prize money than they are on the rest of the tour.”
You’ve lost me there, Tim. Unless you’re trying to say that overall, what with the extra money women make from playing in doubles matches, it works out in the end, even though the justification for paying the men more is that they play more sets.
You’re making my head hurt, Tim. I think I’m going to have to agree with the person who said this.
”In the 21st century, it is morally indefensible that women competitors in a Grand Slam tournament should be receiving considerably less prize money than their male counterparts,” WTA Tour chief executive Larry Scott said in a statement.
He accused Wimbledon of taking a ”Victorian-era view” on pay.
And let’s talk for a minute about stars, Tim. Tennis is one of those rare sports where the women are more widely known and widely watched than the men. Especially in the past several years, when the Williams sisters were on the rise and the biggest draw on the men’s side was Pete Sampras who, while a terrific player, was less than scintillating. Box-office draw is one of the reasons Hollywood always gives for paying women less than men, but it looks to me like you’ve got the opposite problem here. You’re trying to justify higher pay for men even though they aren’t as big a draw as the women by pointing at the number of sets they play in a match and refusing to acknowledge that you’re the one keeping it that way.
Don’t you think you’d increase drama and draw more TV revenue if you had the top women players playing five sets?
Oh, I see. You might have to pay them more than the men, then. And that just won’t do.