Equal Pay for Unequal Work

This is the first year that the women’s champion will get the same payout as the men’s champion at Wimbledon. After her win yesterday, Venus Williams paid tribute to the first famous sporting lesbian Billie Jean King for fighting for this for years.

But has Venus really earned her money? She will get the same £700,000 for playing 15 out of a possible 21 sets of tennis. The men play a possible 35 sets, of which today’s finalist, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played 16 and 20 before meeting each other in today’s final. Thus Venus has been paid £46,667 per set, or if you want to give her credit for the possible 21, which she has completed in short order due to her superior skill, that’s £33,333 per set. By that calculation, Federer and Nadal can only make £20,000 per set. Today’s final went five sets, so on an actual per-set-played basis, Federer made the same as if every challenger had taken Venus to 3 sets.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love women’s tennis. I’ve always been a bigger fan of the women’s game than the men’s. They have much nicer legs. But if you want to talk about superior skill, Venus could pump up her biceps all she wants, but she could still not compete against the men. Not just the best of the man – any of the men. No woman has ever beaten a ranked men’s player.

For all of her talk about Billie Jean, remember that BJ beat Bobby Riggs when he was in his 50s and she was in her 20s. He had been the top tennis player in the world two years before she was born. It is often forgotten that Riggs beat then-No. 1 Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1 several months before he lost to Billie Jean.

The male players know the women shouldn’t make as much. British No. 1 Andy Murray is opposed to the equal pay and former No. 1 Tim Henman has called the women greedy. John MacEnroe favours equal pay, but openly admits the women don’t train as hard as the men. I clearly have a more favourable view than Pat Cash, who has called women’s tennis “two sets of rubbish”.

Clearly legs that look as nice as those of Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, or Michaëlla Krajicek are worth something, but £700,000?

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2 Responses to Equal Pay for Unequal Work

  1. Michael says:

    The obvious solution to this inequity is to expand the women’s game to the same number of sets, or else abolish the men/women division and have the men & women compete together, and see how long it lasts.

  2. PNH says:

    Perhaps the payout should be based on the value attributed to women’s / men’s tennis as reflected in ticket & merchandise sales, advertising, and endorsements.

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