While browsing Facebook suffering from a huge Wimbledon 2015 hangover, I stumbled upon a very interesting discussion about equal prize money at Wimbledon. The discussion about equal prize money is as old as the sports itself and while it may seem that equal pay is a step forward for women, it, however, does cut both ways.
The Novak Djokovic – Serena Williams Wimbledon equal prize money conundrum
This is what started the discussion on equal prize money on Facebook:
I’m all for women and men being paid equally for their efforts at the tennis majors. Regardless of their sex they are athletes at the pinnacle of the sport and their professionalism is out of this world so they deserve the rewards. My question though is… Has the balance now not gone the other way? Both Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic received a payout of +/- £1.88m pounds for their respective wins this weekend. To earn that purse , Novak had to win 21 sets to Serena’s 14. Novak spent 16 hours on court while Serena only had to endure 10.5 hours of battle. Keep aside all their preparation for Wimbledon etc, that equates to Serena earning herself £ 179.000 per hour for her on court efforts. Novak’s hourly earnings was £ 117 500 meaning that Serena in fact earned +/- £ 61 000 per hour more than Novak at Wimbledon 2015.
The math here is entirely correct. Djokovic really had to work one and a half times as much to win the title and earn that well earned cash. Equal pay has been a debate for so long now. If the ladies really want equality then why not up the women’s game to a best of five? Or why not have the men play best of three? Or why not have pay outs determined by amount of sets played?
Gaining more acceptance
The best of five idea sounds the most appealing to me. It doesn’t have to be from round one but what about the fourth round onwards? Would that be bad?
Andy Murray said the same thing in an interview with the New York Times. Even added that by playing the best of five would increase the acceptance of equal prize money amongst men.
“It isn’t about it being inferior. As I see them, they’re two different sports,” Murray said. “It’s just because we play five sets. I’m not saying the men work harder than the women, but if you have to train to play five sets, it’s a longer distance. It’s like someone training to be a 400-meter runner and someone training to be a 600-meter runner. I think the women should play best-of-five sets.
“[Maybe] it doesn’t have to be from the first rounds,” added the Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion. “I think either the men go three sets or the women go five sets. I think that’s more what the guys tend to complain about, rather than the equal prize money itself.”
Then what does equal pay do for women’s tennis? Sure they get more money and with that more status but at the same time it perpetuates the myth of the weaker sex. Something that the sport really doesn’t need.
Oliver Brown said it best in his op ed for The Telegraph:
Tennis still operates on much the same antediluvian logic. Biologists and physiologists have vigorously disputed the notion that the female body harbours any genetic inferiority in a sporting sense, and yet the grand slams sustain a system offering the same reward for barely half as much work. It is a contradiction to ponder this summer, especially for tennis fans unfortunate enough to draw tickets for ladies’ semi-final day from the annual ballot.
Let us know your thoughts about equal pay in the current state of tennis. Is it really equal or are there fundamental changes needed to the sport to make it equal. Let us know by leaving a comment.