Wimbledon was the last Grand Slam to offer equal prize money to both genders. The first one was the US Open, where in 1973 made a breakthrough and awarded both men and women equally. In the 70s tennis was one of the only sports to offer equal pay, a move that defined the next steps to establish what women always deserved. In 2007, 34 years later it was time for Wimbledon, the most conservative Slam of all, to join the other 3 and equalize their award money.
The woman who helped make this possible is far more than a legendary tennis champion. She is a seven-time Grand Slam title holder, spent years fighting for equal pay and she is none other than Venus Williams. Along with the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) she got tennis’ biggest major to erase the pay gap once and for all.
Although, at that point, the difference in prize money was small, it was a symbolic gesture which increased women’s confidence and their game. “The time is right to bring this subject to a logical conclusion and eliminate the difference,” All England Club chairman Tim Phillips stated, when announcing the policy change. “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,” he continued.
This year, 2016, almost a decade after equal pay in Wimbledon was established, Venus’ sister, Serena Williams was Wimbledon’s champion. However, in the semi-finals Serena played against Vesnina and won in 48 minutes. After her win, BBC Sports went on Twitter to question whether men and women should receive the same amount of money. The tweet said: “Her match lasted just 48 minutes…but Serena Williams says female players deserve equal pay.” This tweet might have been deleted but it caused so much criticism.
When asked about the matter Serena said: “Basically my whole life I’ve been doing this. I haven’t had a life. I would like to see people – the public, the press, other athletes in general – just realize and respect women for who they are and what we are and what we do.”
Angelique Kerber who won her semi-final in 72 minutes was also asked to comment on the above statement. “We are giving everything on court, everybody. You never know if it’s two hours or, at the end, eight hours,” Angelique said.
In all 4 majors, women play best-of-3 matches, instead of best-of-5, so it is natural that the match duration would be less than the men’s. However, the duration of the game has nothing to do with establishing equal pay. Men tennis players have also some similar situations where their matches lasted less than an hour. Equal pay is all about the equality of the sexes. Male and female athletes, in this case tennis players, have the same amount of love and respect for their sport, sacrifice their lives to do what they are doing and work extremely hard to reach their highest level. They actually do the exact same job. Thus, why would the sex define ones salary?