22 February 2007
Balancing net income
In 1884, when women first competed at Wimbledon, the top prize was a silver flower basket worth 20 guineas (£21). The top prize for men was worth 30 guineas, and it was gold.
This disparity continued through 2006, when menís champion Roger Federer received $1.170 million and womenís winner Amelie Mauresmo got $1.117 million. Beginning this year, though, the All England Club has agreed to offer the same prizes to men and women competing at Wimbledon. Club chairman Tim Phillips' announcement:
Tennis is one of the few sports in which women and men compete in the same event at the same time. We believe our decision to offer equal prize money provides a boost for the game as a whole and recognizes the enormous contribution that women players make to the game and to Wimbledon. We hope it will also encourage girls who want a career in sport to choose tennis as their best option. In short, good for tennis, good for women players and good for Wimbledon.
We believe that what we do at the moment is actually fair to the men as well as to the women. It just doesn't seem right to us that the lady players could play in three events and could take away significantly more than the men's champion who battles away through these best-of-five matches. We also would point [out] that the top 10 ladies last year earned more from Wimbledon than the top 10 men did.
I note that the women's two-out-of-three, of late, has been at least as big a draw as the men's three-out-of-five.
The 2007 Championships will be held 25 June through 8 July; the exact amount of prize money has not yet been determined.