News out of Wimbledon is that for the first time in history the Championships will pay equal prize money to both the men and women this year.
I guess all the backlash from players and negative PR the event received last year finally caught up to the good folks at SW19, who had historically been on the side of the men, last year awarding roughly 5% more in prize money to the men’s champ, Roger Federer, then they gave to ladies winner Amelie Mauresmo.
Here’s what Wimbledon head Tim Phillips had to say on this issue last April: “It just doesn’t seem right to us that the lady players could play in three events and could take away significantly more than the men’s champion who battles away through these best-of-five matches. We don’t see it as an equal rights issue…Obviously, it’s something that could be done and we could respond to the pressure that we come under by doing something that we fundamentally don’t think would be fair on the men. We also would point that the top 10 ladies last year earned more from Wimbledon that the top 10 men did.”
Now, a year later, Phillips has changed his tune: “As in every other year, the Committee has again analysed all the relevant information and then made a judgement. This year, taking into account both the overall progression and the fact that broader social factors are also relevant to the decision, they have decided that the time is right to bring this subject to a logical conclusion and eliminate the difference. We believe this positive step will be widely welcomed.”
After they “analysed all the relevant information” – whatever that means! – the “Committee” decided it simply wasn’t worth all the trouble and the negative pub to maintain the prize money difference, especially with a roof coming over center court and the Olympics not far off, the “Committee” was better off burying this issue once and for all. Makes sense to me, and frankly I’m glad because I won’t have to hear about this issue during Wimbledon this year.
That leaves the French Open as the lone Slam that has yet to offer 100% equal pay, but I’m sure they will be getting on board pretty quickly.
My stance is if the Slams want to do it, so be it. It’s their event. I’m fine with that. Good for the women if they can get it.
Not surprisingly, WTA head Larry Scott along with Venus Williams and Billie Jean King have already come out in support of the decision, but I would be more interested in hearing what the men’s players think. Really really think. Where’s Marcelo Rios when you need him?
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