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Wimbledon Pays Up To Pay Equal!

As a former tennis player and tennis team captain (and more importantly, as a feminist), I was happy to learn that Wimbledon, the oldest and perhaps most prestigious event in the sport of tennis, has finally decided to award equal prize-money to men and women. Ending an unequal pay policy that dates back 123 years, this decision is certainly something to celebrate, though it seems like a no-brainer. It’s high time that male and female athletes get equal pay, right? One would think we’d all be on the same page, but the decision was met with mixed reactions.

There has been some grumbling that male tennis players deserve more prize money because they play the best of five sets while women only play the best of three. Frankly, it’s a little puzzling that this gender-based regulation difference still exists at all. It’s not as if the Williams sisters, Amelie Mauresmo, or any of the other power-house hitters lack the stamina to play longer matches. Let’s remember who won the famous “Battle of the Sexes” match in 1973 -- Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 after the 55-year-old former world-ranked No. 1 claimed he could easily beat the top female players of the day. King, who in 1967 was selected as "Outstanding Female Athlete of the World" and went on to become the first woman to be honored as the Sports Illustrated "Sportsperson of the Year," was active in the women’s liberation movement and, in 1971, was the first female athlete to win over $100,000 in prize money in a single season.

In her efforts to seek gender equality, King was preceded and joined by Gladys Heldman, a life-long women's advocate, activist, and tennis enthusiast who confronted the disparity in male/femlae prize money by organizing independent tennis events in competition with the U.S. Open.

The efforts of King and Heldman broke many barriers and helped give leverage to Wimbledon's new policy. Hopefully, their work will continue to inspire others to fight for equal pay in sports across the board!

Topics: Feminism, Athletes
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That is not true at all. The average women's game is 1 hour shorter than a men's tennis match, so in terms of advertisement they are not making nearly as much money. In case you aren't aware, men play a best of 5 match and women and best of 3. I enjoy watching women's tennis, but economically it doesn't make sense to pay women the same amount for less tennis.

Bobby threw the match, Bobby didn't throw the match. Why people have these discussions is beyond me. Of course women deserve the same money prizes. After all, a female tennis player makes the same sacrifices as a male tennis player in order to have a career, and that means leaving everything aside, putting the personal accomplishments on hold (and this is even more true in women's cases).


Of course men have been paid more simply because they are men. That is the reality of the world we live in. But behind all of that is another key issue - not entirely without merit - that the reason men get more money, especially in the slams, is that they have the biggest stars and bring in the most revenue. This has been often true in the sport's heyday since the open era, especially in the 1980s with Borg, McEnroe, Connors, et al. The male players argued - again not without some merit - that the fans came mostly to see them and therefore they deserved the lion's share of the purse. Today, the women's game arguably has the biggest stars and thus has the most appeal. This may explain why - more than enlightenment or a sense of justice - the purses are now more equal. Justice is nice and long overdue - but economics pay the bill.

While I'm happy to admit there is or was some controversy surrounding the Riggs / BJK match up, IÌ¢‰â‰ã¢d like to see some evidence or proof of these claims that she was on steroids and that Bobby threw the match. Unsubstantiated talk is cheap. Back it up with some sources!

Every one knows that Bobby threw the match. Not only that but BJK was on steroids.

While I very much agree with the sentiment put forth by JN on equal pay for athletes, I think the audience is as much to blame as professional sports associations. Here's my hypothesis: Wimbledon is shelling out equal pay because people are watching more or equal amounts of women's tennis as men's.

The sports junkies will argue that it's because women's games have more back and forth, making it more fun to watch. If you push, you might get a few men to admit to the draw of clingy, short skirts on female athletes--athletes turned models like Anna Kournikova, a Sports Illustrated cover girl (July 2000). But that's not really the point, is it?

I can name female athletes in tennis and figure skating, and track and field with some prompting, but paying these athletes will continue to reflect viewership. I have to admit I'm part of the problem here when I say that I can't name a professional female basketball player or a femme hockey player. Equal pay seems like a no-brainer, but who's watching?

How to cite this page

Namerow, Jordan. "Wimbledon Pays Up To Pay Equal!." 26 February 2007. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on June 7, 2020) <>.

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