Gilles Simon, the 13th ranked mens tennis player in the world, said this week at Wimbledon that he believes women tennis players should be paid less than men, because the men’s game is “more attractive.” He added that he thinks equal pay is “something that doesn’t work in sport“:
Simon, the world number 13, had criticised the move towards equality, insisting that the men’s game has more to offer spectators.
“We often speak of equal money, but I think it’s something that doesn’t work in sport,” said Simon.
“Tennis is the only sport today where we have parity even though men’s tennis remains more attractive than women’s at this time.”
Simon is a member of the Association of Tennis Professionals’ player council, which helps advise the tour’s Board of Directors. It was only five years ago that Wimbledon began paying male and female players the same amount, using the fact that men play five sets to womens’ three as justification. Both the U.S. and Australian Opens have been paying equal wages for years.
Even with Wimbeldon’s decision, women tennis players make substantially less than men. As Collin Flake, Mikaela Dufur, and Erin Moore of Brigham Young University found, “Women make $337 less per [tour] point than men, as well as “$27,620 less per singles title won.” Overall, women “are paid $31,337 less per year.”
In a statement, the CEO of the women’s tennis tour, Stacey Allaster, said, “tennis, including the Grand Slams, is aligned with our modern, progressive society when it comes to the principle of equality. I can’t believe in this day and age that anyone can still think otherwise.” Other players have responded similarly. “Over the whole year, we are a long way from winning as much as the men — only in a few tournaments and Grand Slams,” said Marion Bartoli, France’s top women’s player. “We are fully-invested as much as them. The physical demands, training, investment on a personal level are the same as theirs.”
Back in 2007, tennis great John McEnroe said, “I think when you’ve got men and women playing at the same tournament, it is ludicrous to have a difference in pay. It would be setting an example to the rest of society in general to have equal prize money.” Evidently today’s players have yet to catch up with his views.