Earlier this month, French professional tennis player Gilles Simon voiced his controversial opinion that women do not deserve to get equal prize money at Wimbledon, and in the days to follow he has faced a fury which hell itself could never have fathomed. Since the All-England Club’s hotly debated decision to match the women’s pay with the men’s in 2007, the topic has remained largely on the backburner; but once again the sexism row of SW19 has reared its ugly head, sparking backlash from female tennis players who are firmly of the belief that they are entitled to just as much money…for playing half as much tennis.
Despite being female and thus feeling slightly traitorous to my gender, I completely agree with Simon’s view, and that of all those who continue to protest. Although Simon didn’t phrase his point as eloquently or sensitively as he could have done, his declaration that ‘men’s tennis is actually more interesting than women’s tennis’, is just downright true. It’s just unlucky that men are stronger, faster and have more stamina than women; thus they can serve harder, react more swiftly and endure longer matches (making sense of the fact that men play five sets while women play only three). So it’s completely logical to conclude they should be paid more because they actually play more (statistics show that over the course of the tournament the men can play up to four games more each), thus providing the public with more entertainment, as well as taking more of a physical hit. The sad fact is women can do absolutely nothing to combat this biological inequality, but that as they say, is life. If women wish to play head to head with their male counterparts, by all means go ahead and give it a go, I wish them well, but everybody knows payday will be a long time coming if they do. After all, can you really see Serena Williams beating Federer? Me neither.
Serena, along with fellow player Maria Sharapova, refuses to accept there is any question in the matter. She made her stance clear earlier last week, stating ‘Women’s tennis is awesome… more people are watching [Sharapova] than [Simon]…She’s way hotter than he is’, but in actual fact the thirteen time Grand Slam champion has completely devalued her own argument. Why, we ask ourselves, do a lot of people watch Sharapova? An epic forehand perhaps? Or a smashing serve? Because obviously our society would never be as politically incorrect to be drawn in simply by her non-existent tennis skirt and long tanned limbs. To be clear, I’m not in any way insulting her skills on court, she is an extremely talented player, but it has to be said that her 69% male Facebook fan base alone speaks volumes about the motives driving her viewers.
The bottom line is men’s tennis has always been, and in my eyes, will always be more popular. It has a thrill and an edge to it that the female equivalent could never hope to match. For example who can forget the epic battle, and possibly the most impressive display of tennis ability the world has ever seen, between Nadal and Federer back in 2008? The world watched with its heart in its mouth as the five set monster of a match went on and on; every person watching feeling the sting of every disappointment and the delight of every celebration along with the two men. The tremendous roar of the crowd gathered on Henman Hill alone as Nadal claimed his first Wimbledon victory over five-time champion Federer paid tribute to the gravity of the situation. But I for one could not even remember who played in the women’s final that year, until Google informed me it was in fact the Williams sisters.
Until the day the girls agree to play the same number of sets, manage to create the same amount of hype and draw in the same crowds, I feel they should only be paid what they deserve; so it’s a shame that the powers behind this prestigious event were pressured into creating ‘equality’ where there was no precedent to do so.