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Should There Be Equal Pay at the Wimbledon Championships?

Info: 4237 words (17 pages) Essay
Published: 17th Mar 2021 in Sports

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Equality is still not resolved even in today's society. In sports it has been an issue, in particular in an annual tennis tournament in England, called Wimbledon. I am interested about how male and female tennis professionals are treated differently and the reasons behind this. This topic of how women and men are treated differently is important to be aware of, and many people were aware and wanted to try and resolve this issue and make a change in particular Billie Jean King, who showed her passion and desire towards this sport. Not only in sport is there a pay gap but in employment it is common, and the gender pay gap among employees is around 8.9%, which is only a small change from 2018. In addition, for pay groups of under 40 years, the gender pay gap for full-time employees is now close to zero.[1] Tennis is not the only sport which includes a pay gap, it is very common in majority of sports, for example, during the Women's Football World Cup, there has been attention drawn to the difference in the treatment of male and female footballers, due to there being a significant gap in pay as well as the prize money and treatment compared to the men's game is different.[2]Furthermore, in tennis, there are many ideas and opinions on whether there should be equal pay and more recently competitions have started to take actions towards this. However, even though female tennis players are paid less than men, when looking at the 10 highest paid athletes in 2018, nine of the females were tennis players, they are one of the highest paid female athletes in female sports.[3]Organisations such as the Women’s Tennis Association was set up in 1973 by Billie Jean King, which aimed to reduce sexual discimination. This was very effective and has changed the sport since.[4]  The tennis tournament, Wimbledon was the last to award equal pay out of all of the championships for both men and women, in 2007. Compared to the other tournaments this is very late. The US open was the earliest competition to award equal pay in 1973.[5]I will be focusing mainly on Wimbledon as it is a familiar as well as a popular competition and occasion in England which is watched by over 300 million people across over 200 countries, as it is so widely watched I enable more people to be informed about the differences in pay.[6] As watched by many people, these issues are familiar and should be addressed more publicly.  It is not only Wimbledon where women do not earn the same as men, it is common in many different professions, sports and jobs. In 2018, 71% of the world’s top 100 men earned more than women, based on prize money earned per tournament.[7] Which, compared to previous years, the gap has narrowed and hopeful will still keep narrowing in the future. From my question, I would like to be able to answer and come to a valid conclusion about whether there should or should not be equal pay in the Wimbledon championships.

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The argument has grown as there was and still is currently unequal pay between the male and female professional tennis players. Wimbledon is not the competition and tennis is not the only sport where there is unequal pay. However, I will be focusing on tennis, in particular Wimbledon. This has been an issue for a long time. Even, when Billie Jean King was playing in the 1960s the women were paid much less than men. When she won Wimbledon for the third time in 1968 she was awarded £750. However, the male winner, Rod Laver was awarded £2000.[8]This was not just in Wimbledon that the pay difference was large. In other tournaments, the pay difference was even larger, or in some circumstances women were not even allowed to play. Now, looking back and reflecting on how far women have come is extremely empowering, and has encouraged young players to express their opinions on this issue and try to make changes. Serena Williams, is one of the greatest female tennis players and has won and is still winning grand slam titles. Serena's background and culture is something which she treasures and does not wasn’t want to dissociate from. In addition to being a phenomenon, she has come out from a ‘line of African-Americans who have also battled and fought to have excellence in such a place that attached its value to its whiteness and worked overtime to keep it segregated’.[9] In addition, more recently, a well known women’s professional Serena Willams over her career, currently has earnt over $82 million from prize money, from a record of 39 grand slam titles. Whereas, one of the highest male professional tennis players, Novak Djokovic has earnt around $120 million, however he has only won 16 grand slam titles.[10] This is a very surprising statistic, due to the fact that Serena has won more than double grand slam titles, but has not earnt as much money. They are both extremely talented players in their sport, however, as Serena Williams has won many more grand slam titles than Djokovic, and so should have won more money. Furthermore, both Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic have won Wimbledon titles. However, Serena Williams has won seven titles.[11] Whereas, Djokovic has only won five.[12] Both players have won lots of Wimbledon titles however, Williams has won more. This argument is not about the money, it is about how they should be treated equally, as they both put equal amounts of effort into this sport of tennis, as it is their passion. The amount of money awarded to both players has become more equal, however the main point is that Serena Williams has won more grand slam titles and Wimbledon titles, but has been paid less than Novak Djokovic who has won less titles. This is just one example of how male and female players are not treated equally, and something which I do not agree with.

One of the main arguments of why men should earn more money than women was based on the fact that women only play best of three sets, whereas men play best of five sets. Men end up spending more time on the court than women when playing matches. The men play best of five sets, and so the average time of a match can take up to five hours. Whereas, women play best of three sets and so the average duration of a match is between two to three hours.[13] However, both men and women work hard, push their bodies and eat clean. They are dedicated to the sport of tennis and are fit athletes who take sacrifices in order to become the best, so they should be paid the same amount of money. When looking at the time spent on the court, men obviously play for longer periods of time. Women would be able to play best of five sets however they are unable to choose and so shouldn’t be paid and treated unfairly. In addition, a way of resolving this issue would be that both men and women play, either best of three sets or best of five sets.Women are not allowed to play five sets, and this situation had been branded ‘unfair’, ‘outdated’ and ‘indefensible’ by Dr Paul Davis, a chairman of the British Philosophy of Sport Association and Lisa Edwards, a senior sports lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Who argued that, because women only play best of three sets it creates the idea that women are seen as weaker in comparison to men.There is no obvious reason as to why women cannot play best if five sets, they are as fit and capable and I can’t see why women wouldn’t be willing to play this. It is unfair to both men and women, and for men by playing best of five sets it creates a greater risk of injury.[14]However, it is seen as traditional that the men’s play best to five sets, and the men’s single is one of the most important events in the tournament. In addition to this, it is thought that because the men play for a longer period of time on court, they have higher viewing figures and so should be paid more. As the men are playing for a longer period of time the audience would get more for their money. However, this is not always the case, such asin 2014, the US women’s final grew a larger audience than the mens. The viewing figures are generally based on the person’s individual personality and performance and whether they are a well known player.In the past, top male professional players such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have previously claimed that they, men, should earn more than women as they attract larger crowds.[15]For these reasons stated, Wimbledon, or the sport of tennis in general could be potentially labelled a sexist sport. I don’t think that because women don’t play the same amount of hours on the court, which is not out of choice, doesn’t mean that they don’t train equally as hard.

Recently, there has been an increase in the amount of girls taking part in sport. Andy Murray, who is a male professional tennis player, believes that men and women should be treated more equally. I agree. Andy Murray has a female coach, which has enabled him to understand how females are not treated equally and or similar, to men who work in similar jobs and environments. The amount of work that it takes to become a top tennis player is underestimated by lots of people. The amount of hours spent in the gym, on the court, in the physio, travelling, analysing matches and making sacrifices is not always shown. Andy Murray believes that men and women playing doubles matches is a great opportunity as it makes friendships and it has huge benefits for both men and women and is a way to improve and get better. Judy Murray, Andy Murray's mother, made it feel natural for Andy to play with women and has been since he was a child. Currently, there are 4 boys to 1 girl that play tennis, which is a significant gap. Therefore, Judy Murray has started a programme called Miss-hits, where she teaches girls the basics of tennis, this is something which she seems  very passionate about. I think that this is very important, it gives girls a bigger opportunity to learn more skills and to get more girls involved with the sport of tennis. In addition, there are more and more female role models, commentators and people championing the rights for women in sport, which is significant.[16]In the US in 1971, only 294,065 girls participated in school sports, whereas 2,66,917 boys participated. By 1989-90, 1,858,659 girls participated and there were 2,298,192 boys.This shows how there are so many more opportunities for women playing sports. Even though sport is still dominated by men, there has still been a dramatic increase in female athleticism in the past years.[17]

It is not only Wimbledon and tennis where women are treated unfairly in comparison to men. However, more recently, there has been a huge increase in the growth and popularity of female sports and athletes compared to previous years. The western patriarchal society, in particular, has previously devalued the concept of women athletes, as being weaker and not as powerful. However, within the last forty years women have challenged this idea. The media is a very influential platform for both the good and bad. Previously, the media emphasises women as being attractive and feminine, which this shifts their attention from their skills to their looks. The media is more interested in their appearance rather than their skill or how they are playing. A common example of this is the tennis player Anna Kournikova, one of the most photographed players due to her physical appearance. Nonetheless, she never won any major tournament but has still earnt more money than other players who have. The photographers were not concentrating on her talent but her physical appearance instead, which is very degrading to women.[18]

In conclusion, after accumulating this information and widening my knowledge on this issue, I personally think that women should earn the same amount of money as men. I don’t see why they shouldn’t, as they both work extremely hard and are dedicated to the sport of tennis. The money is not always an accurate representation of their talent titles won, such as Anna Kournikova and the amount of effort they put in. From my primary research, someone said that they think that there should be equal pay only if the matches are the same length, due to the fact that women put the same amount of time and effort as men. For women playing less sets it is out of women's professional hands, they are not able to change the rules and traditions. It isn’t the case that men play best to 5 sets in all tournaments, such as in the French, US and Australian open. I think that with the training that the women do, there is no reason why they are not able to play best of 5 sets. However, this argument is not about the money which the players are earning, it is about the equality between men and women which I think is very important.


[1] Gender pay gap in the UK: 2019 (online) Written by Roger Smith. Published on October 29th  2019. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/genderpaygapintheuk/2019

[2] FIFA Women’s World Cup spurs equal pay debate (online) Written by Joe McMorrow. Published on 2nd July 2019. Available at: https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/analysis/fifa-womens-world-cup-spurs-equal-pay-debate

[3] Why Female Athletes Earn Less Than Men Across Most Sports (online) Written by Olivia Abrams. Published on July 23rd 2019. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliviaabrams/2019/06/23/why-female-athletes-earn-less-than-men-across-most-sports/#3560a37740fb

[4]  Forty Years on, how Billie Jean King led the revolution that propelled women to greater equality. (online) Written by Paul Newman. Published on Tuesday 18th June 2013. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/forty-years-on-how-billie-jean-king-led-the-revolution-that-propelled-women-to-greater-equality-8664164.html

[5]How women won the fight for equal prize money at Wimbledon (online) Written by Charlotte Edmond. Published on: 7th December 2017. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/07/wimbledon-women-equal-prize-money

[6] Is it sexist women only play three sets at the championship? (online) Written by: Kashmira Ganda. Published on: 5th July 2017 Available at :  https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/wimbledon-2017-sexist-women-three-sets-tennis-players-championship-men-five-williams-murray-a7825086.html

[7]  State of pay: tennis has a huge gender gap in earning power (online) Written by Daniel Levitt. Published on Saturday 14th July. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/ng-interactive/2018/jul/14/tennis-pay-gap-shouldnt-be-gender-based

[8]  ‘It’s not about the money. It’s about the equality message’ (online) Written by Kira Cochrane. Published on 23rd June 2013. Available at: 


[9]  The Meaning of Serena Williams (online) Written by Claudia Rankine. Published on August 25 2015. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/30/magazine/the-meaning-of-serena-williams.html?_r=0

[10]  How women won the fight for equal prize money at Wimbledon (online) Written by Charlotte Edmond. Published on: 7th December 2017. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/07/wimbledon-women-equal-prize-money/

[11] Who has won the most titles? (online) Written by Ben Ladner. Published on July 2nd 2018. Available at: https://www.si.com/tennis/2018/07/02/wimbledon-championships-roger-federer-martina-navratilova

[12] Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam Titles, Finals, Records (online) Available at: https://www.tennis-x.com/grand-slam-finals/novak-djokovic.php

[13] How Long is A Tennis Match?(online) Published on 25th February 2020. Available at: https://sportyreview.com/how-long-is-a-tennis-match/

[14]  Is it sexist women only play three sets at the championship? (online) Written by: Kashmira Ganda. Published on: 5th July 2017 Available at :  https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/wimbledon-2017-sexist-women-three-sets-tennis-players-championship-men-five-williams-murray-a7825086.html

[15] State of pay: tennis has huge gender gap in earning power (online) Written by Daniel Levitt. Published on Saturday 14th July. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/ng-interactive/2018/jul/14/tennis-pay-gap-shouldnt-be-gender-based

[16] Andy Murray: Tennis Women make the same sacrifices as men (online) Published on September 18th 2017. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-41082938

[17] Separating the men from the girls: The gendered language of televised sports (online) Published in March 1993. Written by Michael A. Messner, Margaret Carlisle Duncan and Kerry Jensen. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/190027.pdf?ab_segments=0%252Fbasic_SYC-5032%252Ftest&refreqid=excelsior%3A2113693dfaef27b54564605c14f5b732&seq=1

[18] The impact of the media on gender inequality within the sport (online) Written by Eoin J. Trolan. Published on 10th October 2013. Available at: https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S1877042813025512?token=6CCEE6A18796144CABB425164F12575D18803C8F194EAB08E49E656AAD6BD5DF70955666012A05CE0598EEA1D2815BAC 


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