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Equal pay for women in professional sports… but tennis?

Posted by TopOfTheThread on May 27, 2008

Today on Yahoo, they are promoting an article “On Great Jobs that Profit Women: Five Flexible Careers with Man-Sized Paychecks”.

It made me think of a sports and gender-related issue of equal pay.Venus Williams French Open Tennis equal prize money Wimbledon

Much has been made of women and men having equal pay in professional sports.

In most cases, I have no problem with it.For something like the NYC Marathon, the men and women each run 26 mi 385 yards… Equal pay? Sure. And there are other fair examples of situations in which men and women should get equal pay.

But why is there equal pay in men’s and women’s tennis?

The French and Wimbledon tennis championships award the winners the same amount of prize money. Why?

The men play best of 5 sets and the women play best of 3 sets. The revenue generated is not equal based upon TV time. Is there a reason women can’t play best of 5 sets?

The people running the French (and Wimbledon) tennis championships should have pushed back to Venus Williams et al and said, ‘You want equal pay, play an equal number of sets.”

It seems pretty obvious. Am I missing something?



8 Responses to “Equal pay for women in professional sports… but tennis?”

  1. Thank you.

  2. Noticing said

    Thanks for your post about equal pay in tennis.

    I think if you asked most professional women tennis players, they would want to play best of 5 sets. I’ve always thought it was a big disadvantage for slow starters (which Roger Federer is; note his losses when he only gets to play best of 3 sets) because if they drop the first set, they’re already halfway to a loss.

    As for equal pay, I think Billie Jean King had everything to do with the current status of women in tennis.
    Check her out:

  3. m said

    you are exactly correct.. women should NOT get equal pay in tennis.. it just is’nt fair. In marathons and what not thats fine.. mixed doubles in tennis ok… but singles? ridiculous.

  4. Friday025 said

    Why the hell not?? Women don’t get equal pay across the board any way – damn, complaining about women getting paid equally in SOMETHING – seriously?! I say it’s progress.

    Besides, if you ask any Joe/ann Blow on the street to name three top U.S. tennis players, I bet among those would be Venus and Serena Williams. Sports is a business and perception is reality. I think salary has a great deal to do with the celebrity-status of these players. Billie Jean King may have revolutionized women’s tennis, but the Williams sisters have taken the sport to an entirely different level in terms of profit margins (not to mention they’re actually very talented athletes).

    But let’s not even consider the Williams sisters. Take Anna Kournikova. From what I understand homegirl was a horrible tennis player, but that doesn’t stop her from landing major endorsement deals, modeling contracts, and gracing the covers of numerous fashion magazines. To be honest, women tennis players are just more interesting than male players. Not since John Mackenrow would throw his ever-classic temper tantrums has men’s tennis actually been worth watching.

    Regardless of athletic ability, strength, or even number of sets played I think much of it has to do with celebrity and plain interest. Hell, men are dominating every other sport salary-wise (warranted or not)! If the French and Wimbledon championships are handing out the dough, then more power to every female tennis players who are depositing those fat checks. I say continue to give female tennis players big salaries. Lord knows they are the only reason most americans actually give a hoot about tennis in the first place.

    By the way, Serena’s on the cover of Essence Magazine this month (plus she’s dating Common, a famous hip hop artist and GORGEOUS piece of man meat). Um, let’s see Andy Roddick top that!!

  5. Thanks. Good points.

  6. OMU said

    Whether men and women play the same number of sets should not determine the pay. The pay should be determine by the revenue generated by each match. So if the women can generate as much money as the men with their matches, them yes, they should received equal pay.

  7. tennisfan55 said

    If the number of sets being played is such a big deal like eveyone is eluding to, then why not pay Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer less money too? They typically win their matches in 3 sets. They rarely play 5 sets in Grand Slams unless they’re playing each other. I think the issue is really about quality, and there has been some quality women’s matches out there.

  8. nteract said

    The average match for a woman is 2 sets.. The men is over 4 sets
    The average time plays is just over 1 hour for women and almost 4 hours for men.. Viewership
    In the second round, a few days ago, Novak Djokovic beat Radek Stepanek in a grueling, five-set thriller that took 4 hours, 44 minutes
    No matter how good a women’s match is, it never, ever goes long enough for us to observe their endurance, to witness their desire tested over the course of a long battle.
    If a tennis match is equal and hard-fought, fans don’t care whether the players are men or women.
    But the issue at hand here is equal pay for equal WORK. The work concept incorporates energy output and stamina, and until the women play three-out-of-five sets, as do the men, instead of two-out-of-three, I simply don’t see them as logging equal work on the court.
    Men play longer matches, over the best of five sets instead of three

    * Men’s tennis arouses more interest than women’s in terms both of sponsorship and overall attendance

    * Per game played, men actually earn less than women
    Consider the Men’s Wimbledon’s final from last July, a glorious 5-setter between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. If that had been a best-of-3 match, Nadal would have cruised to a quick 2-0 victory, and the final, rather than being a battle-for-the-ages, would have merely been lopsided evidence of Nadal’s new dominance. However, because the men played best-of-5 sets, Federer was able to show his resilience and demonstrate to the world he can still play inspired tennis. We tennis fans were rewarded with a gargantuan match, with stirring play across both sides of the net, the winner in doubt for well more than three hours.

    Contrast that with the all-Williams Women’s Final. The final did not lack for excellent tennis play. Unlike previous matches between these sisters, both of them brought their A-game to this final, and the match was a joy to watch. But after a mere two sets, barely half way through my breakfast at Wimbledon omelet, the match was over. Great tennis, no doubt. But unfulfilling.

    If only these women had played a best-of-5 match like the men. Would Serena have made a comeback to win the third and fourth sets? Would Venus have then regained momentum to win the fifth set? Or would Serena have continued in her remarkable comeback?

    We will never know.

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