Equality And Prizemoney In Tennis

Feb 5, 2012

Immediately after the euphoria of the longest Grand Slam singles final in tennis history in Melbourne, Australia, the debate and discussion surrounding equality and prizemoney in tennis was once again being talked about. “Equal pay for equal play” I heard many people saying, another comment I heard was that “men and women are wired genetically different though so it’s fair”, it’s quite concievable that many people could easily sit in both camps on this issue.
There are many questions to ponder regarding this subject though, some of which include the following….
Should the women be paid equal prizemoney for doing “arguably” less work over the two week period of a Grand Slam?
Should the women be forced to play the best of five sets in Grand Slam tournaments?
Should the men revert to playing the best of three sets in Grand Slams?
I’d like to take a look at these questions and give my views on each one.

On the first question, “Should the women be paid equal prizemoney for doing “arguably” less work over the two week period of a Grand Slam?
If you look purely at the facts based on output you would initially have to think that, no, they shouldn’t be paid prizemoney equal to that of the men, however the women would argue that they train just as hard as the men for the Grand Slams and it’s not their fault that some matches are over in less than one hour.
The women’s final was over after 1 hour 22 minutes in Melbourne compared to the epic 5 hour 53 minute marathon of the mens final.
There was a Grand Canyon of difference between what Victoria Azarenka had to endure to lift her Championship Trophy compared to what Novak Djokovic had to go through to win the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup. Of course the percentage of men’s matches that do end up going five sets in a Grand Slam tournament is a lot less than the ones that don’t, so there is that point to consider also.
One analogy I did hear that made me think “good point’ was when I overheard a comment from a woman referring to the whole pay debate issue, her point of view was that although tennis is a professional sport the athletes class it as their job, therefore she felt that, if they were expecting to be remunerated at the same level, the women should be required to play under the same rules as the men. I have heard from numerous sources that most women on the WTA would be happy to play the best of five sets at Grand Slams, but of course that opens up another debate altogether, would the best of five set women’s matches at Grand Slam’s be wanted by sponsors and television networks, how many people would actually want to pay good money to watch, let’s say, two women ranked outside the Top 50 in a battle over five sets in the 2nd or 3rd round of a Slam?

My thought’s on the first question pretty much summarise my views on the second question, should the women be forced to play the best of five sets in the Slams? Maybe they should, but would it be a popular move for the game and would sponsors, broadcasting networks and tennis fans alike all want to see that happen, probably not!

Now onto the third question, should the men revert to playing the best of three sets in Grand Slams?
Well I am a traditionalist so I have my foot firmly in one camp on this issue, Grand Slams have and always will be the true test of both mental and physical strength for any male tennis player, I don’t want to see them break with tradition and I personally hope that the four biggest tournaments on the tennis calendar always remain the best of five sets. Of course there will be those that say, with the exception of Davis Cup of course, the men play the best of three sets in all other matches/tournaments throughout the season apart from the Grand Slams, so what is all this fuss about over equal prizemoney for only four tournaments.
I have heard a rumour that some players on the men’s tour feel that they are subsidising the women when it comes to the Grand Slams, they feel that the majority of sponsors, television networks and fans would all prefer to watch the men’s matches as opposed to the women’s, which most would argue is probably correct.

It is a very interesting debate in this modern age of equality in the workplace, for example the CEO of a Fortune 500 company would be paid the same salary regardless of gender, then there are those that feel if a woman can run a marathon just like a man is capable of doing, then why can’t the same rules apply for both sexes in all other sports.
The equality and prizemoney debate could be ongoing in tennis circles for some time, especially if we continue to see matches like the one we witnessed between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne last Sunday evening.

Written by: Tono

(2) Comments

Thomas says:
Feb 5, 2012

The only benefit that can come from a best-of-five for the women in grand slams is that the screamers and shriekers will have to either cut it out, or will lose their voices real quick.

It might be worth having a best of five sets for the last seven matches – from the quarterfinals onward.

BetSureWins.com says:
Feb 16, 2012

I agree that there is a lot of controversy regarding this issue. My personal belief is that the women should not receive equal prize-money unless they play best-of-5 sets. A Grand Slam tournament win is something extra special that only a tiny percentage of players will ever achieve. It is not your everyday run of the mill tournament like a Qatar, Monterrey or Estoril. However, besides the extra hype associated with it, that is essentially what a Women’s Grand Slam is. For them it is played exactly like any other tournament on the WTA Tour – best-of-3. There is nothing that differentiates a Slam from any other tournament the women play (unlike the men).
But I can hear the argument now “Oh but they have to play a few more rounds to win”.
Well that’s 7 matches in 14 days – but with 56 (yep count ‘em 56) tournaments on the women’s calendar each year, unless they are taking a holiday – they are playing that much anyway. And that doesn’t even include Fed Cup matches!
So while I can appreciate that the Women train just as much as the Men, the caliber of Tennis just isn’t quite the same, and no-one can argue with that.

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