Djokovic or Williams: Who Has Got the Best Case in the Tennis Prize Money Debate?

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In the never-ending debate on whether or not there should be equal pay in tennis and in sport in general, Dyfan Rowlands has his say on the matter. 

So today, for the first time, I decided to take a step into the unknown and watch an episode of Loose Women: a brave step for any man. Halfway through the girly chit-chat and discussion of gender inequality I thought to myself: “This isn’t actually too bad; some really good and pertinent points are being made”… But then the topic of prize money inequality in tennis emerged. Now, I am a firm believer in gender equality, but the trite and asinine comments by Janet Street-Porter, that women should actually be paid MORE than men in tennis and that women are intrinsically ‘superior’, made me scratch my head in disbelief. If this was a show called ‘Chatty men’ or something, wherein men discussed gender issues, such comments would be undeniably slammed in the media. But alas, Janet Street-Porter got a round of applause for her haughty comments. Such is life.

TennisBut the fact of the matter is that these comments are unfounded for many reasons. Novak Djokovic has been lambasted by Serena Williams for his comment that men deserve a higher prize money package than women, and everyone appears to be joining on the gender inequality bandwagon and backing the American’s outburst. But let’s break it down a little here. From last year’s last four Grand Slam tournaments, each set Williams played actually worked out at £84,000, whereas Djokovic earned £67,708. What’s more, Williams spent 2,413 minutes on the tennis court, working out at £2,262 a minute, whereas Djokovic comes in at 4,003 minutes, working out at £1,623 a minute.

Interestingly, Serena earns more per hour/minute/second than Novak, despite the fact that Novak has played many more games of tennis, and in those games of tennis, plays best of five sets to Serena’s three. Serena is a very fit athlete, and would, in my opinion, have no issues playing the length of game which men do: so why hasn’t she called for it? Instead, she wants her cake and to eat it too, without taking the most logical step. So the long and short of it here is that Serena is earning more for performing less. I don’t know about you, but to me, this doesn’t scream equality. Put it this way: if at work, in the office, you did a day of 8 hours, and the lady at the desk opposite you did 3 hours, would she have a right to argue why you have a higher yearly salary than her? Absolutely not, so why has it all kicked off in tennis?

What’s more, whilst I do not wholeheartedly agree with Djokovic’s statement that men’s tennis has ‘carried the sport’, I do believe that the higher popularity and publicity in the men’s game is a contributing factor towards the prize money given. This is not a sexist concept; this is a fact, and it is the same in other sports also, such as football and cricket.

Gender equality is a great thing, and I hope that we can continue to strive towards achieving it in all sectors of society. But publicity in sport is something which cannot be switched at the press of a button.

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