Do women at Wimbledon deserve the same prize money as the men?

Petra Kvitova parades the winner’s trophy at the Wimbledon Championships this year

Petra Kvitova parades the winner’s trophy at the Wimbledon Championships this year

First published in News

YES: Katie Leppard, chairwoman of North Oxford Lawn Tennis Club

Oxford Mail:

SHOULD male and female tennis players receive the same amount of prize money? I believe they should despite the fact that men play best of five sets and women best of three in the grand slams.

The fundamental problem with assessing a tennis player’s financial worth by their length of play is assuming that their work begins and ends at the major tournaments. Playing matches is just a small part of being a tennis professional. Earning a place in the main draw of a grand slam event requires years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.

There is no difference in how much effort a woman has to make to be a top-level tennis player to that of a man – equipment, coaches, physios, hotels and flights all cost the same. The players’ parents make the same sacrifices for their daughters as for their sons.

Wimbledon started off as a men-only contest. Women at that time were deemed too frail to play a five-set match.

So when the women’s competition was introduced, it was based on best of three sets and this tradition has stuck to the present day.

Could women play five sets? Of course they could. They train just as hard and have a great deal of stamina but would it make for more exciting tennis or viewing? Possibly not.

Does a long match mean it is going to be a great match? One of the best matches I was lucky enough to see at Wimbledon this year was a women’s match – Alize Cornet defeating Serena Williams. It was thrilling, made for great tennis (despite rain delays) and was worth every penny.

Quite apart from the logistics of scheduling all the matches in a two-week period, if they were all to be best of five sets, would this benefit tennis as a whole?

Five-set matches take their toll on players and can cause more injuries, thus shortening the players’ careers which would be detrimental to the sport.

If you suggest to women that they can play tennis but they won’t be able to make as much money as the men and won’t be on a level footing, what kind of message does that convey?

Equal pay is an acknowledgement that the women are giving their all in the same way that men do – you can’t say fairer than that.


NO: 
Liz Reason, chairwoman of Sustainable Charlbury and tennis fan
Oxford Mail:

I’m a feminist and I’m bored. Bored with women’s tennis that is. Every year I like to plan my time carefully around Wimbledon fortnight – not too many afternoon meetings if they can be avoided. Evenings to catch up if necessary. And of course the last weekend when there are two finals to watch.

But this year, I really did have to ask myself whether I would put myself out for the Saturday, the day of the women’s final, and without even being that familiar with the two players in the match, I made an estimate of the time they would play and came to 57 minutes. I think I was out by about four.

How could I be so sure? Because for some reason women’s tennis is only played for best of three sets. Women, who run marathons and triathlons, play football and cricket, clearly have the strength and stamina for five sets, so why don’t they play them?

Contrast the women’s short hour on court with the thrilling four-hour final from Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. If that had stopped at three sets, Djokovic might still have won – the last set would certainly have been longer and played till one of them got head by two games. But we would have missed out on exciting and nail-biting match that rewarded Djokovic finally for his consistency and stamina.

Women have played five-setters before. Between 1984 and 1998, competition for women was played in a best-of-five format. Sponsorship for that ended and future Grand Slams reverted to three sets. Yet the women argued and won that they they should get the same prize money.
The fact is that women’s tennis is often not of the quality of men’s tennis. And wouldn’t we love it to get better? Of course. Going to five sets would help.

It would mean that women would have to get fitter to endure longer hours on court, would have to find a variety of strategies for winning, would have to work to deliver consistency.

And then they would deserve the equal pay that they get. No feminist can argue that women should get equal pay for unequal work. And that’s the principle that Wimbledon is upholding at the moment.


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Comments (9)

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11:38am Wed 16 Jul 14

Madi50n says...

Yes, they do deserve the same as men. What a stupid question!
Yes, they do deserve the same as men. What a stupid question! Madi50n
  • Score: -1

11:39am Wed 16 Jul 14

manixdk says...

Women aren't *allowed* to play 5 sets at Slams. *Not* to pay them equal prize money would be considered legally "unfair" in many countries. The WTA has offered *many* times to play 5 sets, but have consistently been turned down by the Slams. And logistically it would be nearly impossible in the early rounds due to enormous scheduling problems that would ensue, especially at Wimbledon where only one stadium has a roof, and there are no lights on the courts.

WTA boss Stacey Allaster: “Ready, willing and able — all you have to do is ask us” http://gulfnews.com/
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http://www.theaustra
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xeb-1226561269372?nk
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Allaster
Women aren't *allowed* to play 5 sets at Slams. *Not* to pay them equal prize money would be considered legally "unfair" in many countries. The WTA has offered *many* times to play 5 sets, but have consistently been turned down by the Slams. And logistically it would be nearly impossible in the early rounds due to enormous scheduling problems that would ensue, especially at Wimbledon where only one stadium has a roof, and there are no lights on the courts. WTA boss Stacey Allaster: “Ready, willing and able — all you have to do is ask us” http://gulfnews.com/ sport/tennis/wta-bos s-says-women-are-rea dy-for-five-sets-1.1 234897 http://www.theaustra lian.com.au/sport/te nnis/major-obstacle- to-womens-call-for-f ive-sets/story-fnbe6 xeb-1226561269372?nk =90c846bc121d110c031 c0f653b6d58e0 Allaster manixdk
  • Score: 6

12:03pm Wed 16 Jul 14

ashleyc says...

Not a stupid question. Currently, women get paid the same prize money as men but only have to play best of 3 matches instead of 5. Getting paid the same amount for less tennis means that effectively women are being paid more as a "rate".
Katie Leppard doesn't make a single good point against women playing best of 5 - she mentions that it might "possibly not" make more exciting tennis, but I don't think anyone will say that the women's final this year was memerable. She also mentions injury risk, as if it's ok for men to be injured but not women. By her own acknowledgement, women are more than capable of playing the same matches as men; I think that can only be a good thing for the sport.
Not a stupid question. Currently, women get paid the same prize money as men but only have to play best of 3 matches instead of 5. Getting paid the same amount for less tennis means that effectively women are being paid more as a "rate". Katie Leppard doesn't make a single good point against women playing best of 5 - she mentions that it might "possibly not" make more exciting tennis, but I don't think anyone will say that the women's final this year was memerable. She also mentions injury risk, as if it's ok for men to be injured but not women. By her own acknowledgement, women are more than capable of playing the same matches as men; I think that can only be a good thing for the sport. ashleyc
  • Score: -1

12:12pm Wed 16 Jul 14

manixdk says...

ashleyc wrote:
Not a stupid question. Currently, women get paid the same prize money as men but only have to play best of 3 matches instead of 5. Getting paid the same amount for less tennis means that effectively women are being paid more as a "rate".
Katie Leppard doesn't make a single good point against women playing best of 5 - she mentions that it might "possibly not" make more exciting tennis, but I don't think anyone will say that the women's final this year was memerable. She also mentions injury risk, as if it's ok for men to be injured but not women. By her own acknowledgement, women are more than capable of playing the same matches as men; I think that can only be a good thing for the sport.
As I stated in my post, women aren't ALLOWED to play 5 sets at Wimbledon. NOT giving them equal prize money would be patently unfair and, in some countries, liable to legal judgements.

The question shouldn't even be raised as long as all the Slams refuse to allow WTA players to play 5 sets.
[quote][p][bold]ashleyc[/bold] wrote: Not a stupid question. Currently, women get paid the same prize money as men but only have to play best of 3 matches instead of 5. Getting paid the same amount for less tennis means that effectively women are being paid more as a "rate". Katie Leppard doesn't make a single good point against women playing best of 5 - she mentions that it might "possibly not" make more exciting tennis, but I don't think anyone will say that the women's final this year was memerable. She also mentions injury risk, as if it's ok for men to be injured but not women. By her own acknowledgement, women are more than capable of playing the same matches as men; I think that can only be a good thing for the sport.[/p][/quote]As I stated in my post, women aren't ALLOWED to play 5 sets at Wimbledon. NOT giving them equal prize money would be patently unfair and, in some countries, liable to legal judgements. The question shouldn't even be raised as long as all the Slams refuse to allow WTA players to play 5 sets. manixdk
  • Score: 4

12:39pm Wed 16 Jul 14

Sid Hunt says...

Does any sportsperson 'deserve' this amount of money?
Does any sportsperson 'deserve' this amount of money? Sid Hunt
  • Score: 0

1:58pm Wed 16 Jul 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

The "financial worth" should relate to the television audience.

Equal audience for equal effort should be equal prize.
The "financial worth" should relate to the television audience. Equal audience for equal effort should be equal prize. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -1

2:01pm Wed 16 Jul 14

yabbadabbadoo256 says...

ashleyc wrote:
Not a stupid question. Currently, women get paid the same prize money as men but only have to play best of 3 matches instead of 5. Getting paid the same amount for less tennis means that effectively women are being paid more as a "rate".
Katie Leppard doesn't make a single good point against women playing best of 5 - she mentions that it might "possibly not" make more exciting tennis, but I don't think anyone will say that the women's final this year was memerable. She also mentions injury risk, as if it's ok for men to be injured but not women. By her own acknowledgement, women are more than capable of playing the same matches as men; I think that can only be a good thing for the sport.
totally unfair to men - they should only have to play 3 matches!! im going to stage a protest
[quote][p][bold]ashleyc[/bold] wrote: Not a stupid question. Currently, women get paid the same prize money as men but only have to play best of 3 matches instead of 5. Getting paid the same amount for less tennis means that effectively women are being paid more as a "rate". Katie Leppard doesn't make a single good point against women playing best of 5 - she mentions that it might "possibly not" make more exciting tennis, but I don't think anyone will say that the women's final this year was memerable. She also mentions injury risk, as if it's ok for men to be injured but not women. By her own acknowledgement, women are more than capable of playing the same matches as men; I think that can only be a good thing for the sport.[/p][/quote]totally unfair to men - they should only have to play 3 matches!! im going to stage a protest yabbadabbadoo256
  • Score: -2

3:20pm Wed 16 Jul 14

HomerSimpsonDoh says...

Women banged on for ages about equal pay for equal work, but when the shoes on the other foot......
Women banged on for ages about equal pay for equal work, but when the shoes on the other foot...... HomerSimpsonDoh
  • Score: -6

4:39pm Wed 16 Jul 14

Myron Blatz says...

Equal pay and rights for women - what next, giving them the vote? Oh sorry, that happened in 1928, didn't it.
Equal pay and rights for women - what next, giving them the vote? Oh sorry, that happened in 1928, didn't it. Myron Blatz
  • Score: 2

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