French number 13 claims male players work harder
FRANCE’S Gilles Simon has hit out at equal pay for women tennis players, claiming their male colleagues work harder and their games are more attractive to watch.
The French number 13 reignited the row over tennis players’ salaries, five years after Wimbledon adopted matching prize money for both sexes.
Speaking at the London grass court grand slam, before his second round match against Belgian Xavier Malisse was postponed due to rain yesterday, he said: “The male players spent twice as long on court at Roland Garros [during the recent French Open] as the women.
“The equality in salaries isn’t something that works in sport.
“Men’s tennis remains more attractive than women’s tennis at the moment.”
Simon’s comments drew an angry response from the women’s tennis body.
Stacey Allaster, chairman and chief executive of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said: “Tennis, including the grand slams, is aligned with our modern, progressive society when it comes to the principle of equality.
“I can’t believe in this day and age that anyone can still think otherwise. This type of thinking is exactly why the WTA was founded and we will always fight for what’s right.”
Wimbledon began offering equal prize money in 2007, after a unanimous vote in favour of the proposal by the championship committee.
It was emulating the example of the US and Australian Opens and was followed by the French Open, which initially only awarded equal prize money to the winners. The disparity had previously been justified by the fact that men play best-of-five-set matches in grand slams while women play best-of-three.
Ana Ivanovic, whose first round win over Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez lasted an hour longer than Roger Federer’s second round match against Fabio Fognini yesterday, said: “It’s always been talked about, but we are different physiques, as well. I think we earn our money.”
Simon’s compatriot Marion Bartoli said women still earned less than men overall with pay equality only recognised at the grand slams and certain tournaments.
She added: “We put in as much as they do. The physical demands, the training and the investment in ourselves are the same as theirs.”
Reigning US Open champion Samantha Stosur, who lost to Arantxa Rus in her second round match yesterday, denied Simon’s claims that men’s tennis is more attractive.
The fifth seed from Australia said: “I think people come out and watch us play because they want to watch us play.
“I think there are a bunch of men’s matches that go to five that are pretty boring to watch, as well.”
Briton Heather Watson, who became the first British woman to reach Wimbledon’s third round in a decade yesterday, said she agreed with equal pay when both women and men played the same number of sets.
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