SINCE Tennis Australia offered equal shares of the Australian Open prize pool to both male and female competitors in 2000, debate has raged; do men and women deserve the same amount of prize money in tennis grand slams?
The consensus of the Orange tennis community seems to be, yes, they should.
All four of the Grand Slam events; the Australian Open, the US Open, the French Open and Wimbledon now offer equal prize money in the men’s and women’s draws, from the winners all the way down to those who bowed out in the first round.
This is despite women contesting grand slams in best-of-three set matches, while the men play the best-of-five.
Head coach of the Central West Development Squad and Ex-Services’ Tennis Club Stuart Thompson was diplomatic regarding the issue yesterday.
“I’m happy for everyone to receive equal prize money,” he said. “I can understand both sides of the argument, and while I agree with the men being on the court longer, and playing more tennis I think it needs to be brought back to the physical capabilities, and what each player brings to the sport,” he said.
Statistically, at this year’s Australian Open, since the round of 16, females have on average spent just over half the amount of time on court as the men.
Despite the numbers, Mr Thompson said the overall value of a player’s worth shouldn’t just be measured in playing time.
“Women, physically, are not up to playing those five-set games and maintaining the quality the way men do,” he explained.
“Each sex is playing the appropriate tournament for their capabilities, so why should the prize money differ?
“ In terms of entertainment value the men are probably better, but what they all bring to the sport in terms of fans, and supporter base is important too.
“At the end of the day there are as many young girls playing tennis as young men, so why not even it out?”
Orange tennis legend Alison Seib disagreed with Mr Thompson’s first point, saying the difference in playing time on the court matters little, as there is a much larger amount of preparation time unseen by the public.
“The women train, and travel just as hard as any of the men do,” she said. “For that reason, I think it’s a great idea and it provides some equality between the men and women.”
Local player Scott Osbourne agreed.
“I used to think men deserved more prize money,” he explained. “But I thought about the training time and the preparation and it changed my mind. I think it’s fair they win the same amount.”