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The Ros Dodd column



Sorry sisters, I'm with Andy Murray on this one: Britain's rising tennis star has bounced a controversial ball on to court by saying that women players don't deserve to be paid as much in prize money as men.

He's right. As the 19-year-old Scot points out, women's matches typically last half as long as men's and therefore the combatants should be paid less. He also argues that most spectators at Wimbledon are there to watch the men.

Apart from a handful of female ‘greats', such as Martina Navratilova, if you weigh up the entertainment value of women versus men, it's like comparing England and Argentina in this year's World Cup. Laborious and boring vs frenetic and electrifying.

Sure, women tennis players need to be just as fit as men to compete at the top end of the game, but their stamina reserves are rarely tested in the same way as those of their male counterparts. Remember some of the legendary Wimbledon matches that lasted as long as five hours? Those were men's matches. Most women would have collapsed in a heap by then.

What Andy Murray might also have observed was that all top sports people - male or female - are paid obscene amounts of money. As far back as 1992, Jennifer Capriati became the youngest Wimbledon player to exceed $1 million in career earnings, while sisters Serena and Venus Williams have amassed somewhere in the region of $45 million to date. Er, how much more money does anyone - whatever their sex - actually need? OK, those kinds of sums represent sponsorship as well as winnings, but you get the point.

As far as actual earnings go, Wimbledon this year will pay out more than £10 million in prize money, a rise of 2.9 per cent over last year (UK inflation, by the way, is 2.2 per cent). The men's champion will bank £655,000, while the ladies' singles winner will walk away with £625,000. Not only are such figures inconceivable for most hard working people as a return for a couple of weeks' graft, it shows that women tennis players' winnings don't lag very far behind the men's.

Yet still some of these women whinge about not getting the same as men. How refreshing it would be if a top woman player admitted publicly that what she earned was an outrageous amount for playing a game of sport she loved and living a celebrated and charmed life on the back of it - and if she also conceded that, actually, she's effectively getting paid more pro rata than men.

But I doubt any female player is “man enough” to do it.


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