We live in the year of 2016, yet men and women, around the world, don’t have equal rights. Especially in sports, women are treated with so much disrespect. Just recently, Harvard suspended its men’s soccer team because even though the women’s team won the Ivy League title the male players decided to rank the women by their looks and not skill. Additionally, earlier this year, the USWNT filed a wage discrimination lawsuit, because despite the fact they won the gold trophy at the 2015 World Cup they earned roughly one-fourth of male players’ earnings in 2015. However, tennis has been cited as a leader in gender equality among major sports.
But even in tennis, where both men and women compete at the same stadiums around the world, female players still earn significantly less than their male counterparts. “The facts were not put on the table; the fact is we don’t earn equal prize money,” said Andrea Petkovic, a German player ranked 30th. “It’s not true. We only earn it in the Grand Slams and a few other tournaments, but men earn more than we do. I think it was discussed in the wrong manner, and that was very sad to see.”
In all four majors the prize money is equal. But this wasn’t always the case. The US Open was the first major to offer equal pay back in 1973, after Billie Jean King threatened to quit tennis along with other female tennis athletes. The second major to offer equal pay was the Australian Open. Although there were some ups and downs regarding the equal prize money in the Aussie Open it finally stabilized on 2001. Five years later, Roland Garros gave equal prize money to both sexes while Wimbledon held out for another year. Venus Williams, an American tennis player and former number one in the world, played a crucial part in Wimbledon’s decision. “Why does Wimbledon choose to place a lesser value on my championship trophy than that of the 2005 men’s winner Roger Federer?” she said back in 2006.
The four Grand Slam tournaments might have equal prize money for both men and women yet women earn much less money yearly. Why is it that equal pay applies only in the four majors and a few other tournaments and not in every single one of them?
One might argue that getting equal pay in those tournaments is enough. But that is not the case because every right a man has a woman should have too. Women play the same sport, in the same stadiums around the world, work and train as hard as men and still receive less money. Serena Williams, also former world number one and Venus’ sister, when asked about this she stated: “Will I have to explain to my daughter that her brother is gonna make more money doing the exact same job because he’s a man?” Why does gender define the salary of a person? “If they both played sports since they were three years old, they both worked just as hard, but because he’s a boy, they’re gonna give him more money? Like, how am I gonna explain that to her?” Serena continued.
Women will continue the fight for gender equality until they earn what they deserve because “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights” as Hilary Clinton proudly stated in 1995.