Equal Pay In Tennis

Forewarning: I’m about to talk sport. Sorry if it is incredibly boring. It has a non-sport motive behind it.

It wasn’t that long ago that I confessed I didn’t know what feminism meant. A lot of you commented and the basic, general consensus is that it is about women’s equality with men. Equal rights, equal opportunities, including equal pay. It blows my mind that men who do the same job as a woman would get paid more to do it.

While I do think men and women should get equal pay for doing the same job, the one place I strongly disagree with this is in professional tennis. Mostly because even though they are playing the same sport, I don’t think they are doing the same job.

For those disinterested in tennis, or sport, a quick explanation: In the 4 Grand Slams – Aus Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, the prize money for men and women is the same. However, men play the best of 5 sets and women play only the best of 3.

An example from yesterday. Thanassi Kokkinakis won his first round match in 5 sets in 4 hours and 7 minutes. Maria Sharapova won her first round match in straight (2) sets, in 86 minutes.

If a wage worker went in to work for 4 hours, they would certainly get more pay than someone who went in for not even an hour and a half.

In all Grand Slams except the US Open, the 5th set is not decided by a tie break, and a player must be 2 games ahead to win the match. In 2010 at Wimbledon, there was a men’s match that took 11 hours and 3 minutes to play, over the course of 3 days (thanks to weather delays) and resulted in a 5th set score of 70 (games) to 68! The longest women’s match in a grand slam happened in the 2011 Australian Open and took them 4 hours and 44 minutes to play. The third set score was 16-14.

Some arguments for women tennis players making the same as men are almost valid. Some have argued their preparation and training is the same. Both genders train long, hard hours to be professional athletes. Some argue that men are stronger than women and can handle the best of 5 sets. While as a generalisation I agree men are typically stronger than women, it is not always true and doesn’t mean very much when it comes to fitness levels or playing for many more hours than the women. Some argue the women draw just as big a crowd as the men do, therefor should be paid the same. As an experiment, I’d love to offer fans tickets to an equally stacked men’s match or a women’s match, and see just how many picked the women’s tickets.

It’s interesting to note that tennis is the only sport in which women get paid the same as their counterparts. It’s also interesting to note that on the Forbes list of top paid athletes, the only women on there are tennis players. Perhaps it makes me anti-feminist to say it, but unless the women want to play the best of 5 sets, like the men, then their prize money should not be the same.

I could switch pace here and go into a long-winded opinion about how the pay at Grand Slam tennis matches is ridiculous to begin with, no matter if it’s equal or not. The winners of the men’s and women’s singles will, this year, receive a check for $3.1M each. Not bad for 2 weeks of work, hey? Yes, I know, it’s more than just 2 weeks, its the preparation, experience and everything that puts a player in the position to win a Grand Slam. But $3.1M for the year would be good, too! Those who lost yesterday and today in the first round will get checks for $34, 500. Still not bad, but probably the biggest check they will see all year. All up, $40 million will be awarded in prize money at the end of this tournament. Worried about how your kids will manage out of school? Start them in tennis, NOW!

In a time where unemployment is rising and households are trimming back on the luxuries, there is apparently still money in sport. I think I’m going to increase Nick’s weekly half an hour tennis lesson to 3 x 1 hour sessions a week. Yes, he’s only 6, if there’s one thing I learned from Tiger Woods and Andre Agassi it’s that you gotta start them young!

Do you like sport? Do you think women should make the same for playing less tennis? Do you think $40 million prize money for a 2 week tennis tournament is ludicrous? Do you always spell ludicrous like the rapper Ludacris? Do you get off topic easily?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT!


8 thoughts on “Equal Pay In Tennis

  1. What do you think of the golf Aroha – men and women play the same rounds with vastly different prize money (at least I think so). Overall I think sport is so over-valued compared to science and other fields, but then so actors, musicians and the strange crop of celebrities are overpaid too.

    • I think that women’s golf will never be worth as much as men’s. They don’t hit the ball as far, they aren’t as “exciting” and they will never draw the big sponsorships that men’s golf does, so will never make the same. The women’s tennis tour have 20 events less than the men’s, and their prize money is about 75% that of the men’s, then you get to Grand Slams and they are paid the same.

  2. Oh I don’t know. I see your point, and yes it’s a ridiculous amount of money!
    In theory, no they shouldn’t be paid the same if they are not playing the same number of matches. But at the same time, they are playing a full game for what they are required to play, so you could argue that as well?
    I think it would cause all kinds of trouble if they tried to pay women less now though, so in the interest of public peace (and to avoid at least one social media fall out), I’m voting keeping it the same. 🙂

  3. I totally see where you’re coming from. They are playing considerably longer, so why get the same? I daresay there will be no changing it now though. I’m not a sport fan at all, although I do like to watch the tennis and swimming.

  4. I think equal pay should only be for an equal job. Sport is so commercialised now though that really the pay is coming from the sponsors and of course it’s generally only the men’s sport that is shown on television. So of course there are going to be bigger sponsors for those teams. That’s what I think is unfair.

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