COMMENT: The equality of sporting payments, in particular the distribution of prize money in Grand Slam tennis tournaments, is not a new debate.
Since the US Open offered equal prize money for its competitors across all forms of the game, the remaining three Grand Slam events have done the same.
It created unrelenting controversy at the time, and still remains one of the most talked about issues in Australia come late January each year.
I’m all for equality. Women deserve the same rights, pay rates and compensation as men, in comparative roles. In other sports, it is outrageous how little female athletes get paid compared to men.
However, the issue here is; women’s grand slam tennis can’t be compared to men’s, and thus they shouldn’t receive an equal amount of the prize pool.
For a start, the most obvious point. Men plays best-of-five set matches, compared to best-of-three the women play.
However, there is much more to it than just the comparative time spent on the court.
Women’s singles games simply do not produce the entertainment the men do.
For example, take three of the male grand slam games we consider ‘classics’; Sampras v Agassi in ‘01 (US Open quarter-final), Rafter v Ivonesivic in ‘01 (Wimbledon final) and Nadal v Federer in 2008 (Wimbledon final).
All three matches exuded the heart, endurance, momentum swings and inspiration we’ve come to know so well from grand slam epics. Imagine those games being played out over three sets, two of them would have been straight set wins. Who knows what women’s games could have been incredible comeback victories, or back-and-forth duals if they were played over five sets.
And so we come to the point; women’s tennis does not, and will never have the capability to produce such entertaining matches over three sets, due to the restrictive nature and time constraints of three-set matches.
Put simply, people don’t enjoy watching women’s tennis as much as men’s and therein lies the problem. Why not give women a chance to produce this kind of tennis, and earn equal prize money the right way?
These women are playing other women. Playing five sets does not produce a mismatch, and these players are some of the best athletes in the world. They should be able to handle an extra hour of playing time.
Stop throwing money at idealistic protestors to expunge ourselves of guilt for thinking slightly sexist thoughts, and actually solve the problem.
Allow women to play five-set matches. It’s the only way to truly equalise tennis and let’s face it, this type of equality is about receiving the same pay, for the same workload, is it not?