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Equal pay for women tennis professionals


You may be forgiven for thinking that I am approaching this delicate subject as a device for ignoring the Stokes 4 ball disaster which ended the England challenge for the 20/20 World Cup. Suffice to say that this amazing episode was no more extraordinary than his record breaking double hundred at CapeTown earlier in the year. So back to the womens' tennis pay packet issue.

During the recent Tournament in Indian Wells, at the mere mention of a certain imbalance between the entertainment value of female tennis compared with the men, it was no surprise to me that the sh-t hit the fan in a big way. The lady players are entitled to protect their equal pay status with every known argument and if that meant the resignation of an Indian Wells official and a cringing retraction of any such allusion by Mr Jokavich - well, tough.

I remember when a brilliantly constructed argument spearheaded by the formidable Billie-Jean King forced the hand of the Wimbledon administration and achieved the previously inconceivable goal of equal status with the men. Never mind that the ladies only played 3 set matches in the Grandslams. Never mind if a majority of females preferred to watch the men’s game. Never mind if the vast majority of men preferred to watch the men’s game. Never mind that the strength in depth of the women’s game was not nearly equivalent to the men’s. Never mind that the mixed doubles were possibly the least interesting of all that tournaments have to offer. One way or another the women gained equal status and good luck to them.

The extraordinary situation that strikes me is that all these years later, exactly the same set of circumstances obtain. Still 3 set matches. Still the same television viewing habits, Still a number of early round matches which are played at a very modest skill level.

Where the imbalance really shows through the smokescreen is when it comes to off court earnings. Serena Williams apart, normal market forces apply so that commercial endorsements of the men simply dwarf those of the women and, of course, the elephant in the room remains i.e. where on earth will the women’s game be when the amazing Serena retires?

As a sidelight on this intriguing matter I checked on the relative prize money enjoyed by lady golfers compared with the men. My figures are not claimed to be even nearly accurate but I did find that a certain Hana Jany had amassed $581.752 while a rather better known Adam Scott earned $ 4.850.649.
Speaking for myself, I enjoy watching ladies’ golf and ladies’ tennis in equal, though modest measure. What they get paid is of absolutely no importance. Except to the very shrewd group of ladies who have never had it so good.


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