BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Equal money for equal effort

Posted by egehl on September 11, 2009

As a life-long tennis player and enthusiast for the sport I have been watching the U.S. Open tournament with great interest.  I enjoy watching the men and women players show off their incredible talent and skills on the court in heated, nail biting matches.  Tennis is an incredible sport that demands a high level of athleticism, endurance and precision for either sex.  So it was disheartening to learn that there is still discussion happening about whether male and female players should earn the same amount of award money. art_serena_williams_afp_gi

In 2007, Wimbledon and the French Open finally joined the other major tournaments in offering women the same cash prize as men, but the issue is far from resolved.  There are those who still argue for lower pay for women’s tennis claiming that they play fewer sets and attract a smaller television audience therefore they should receive less money.  On the flip side, those supporting equal pay say that it’s not an issue of time on the court, but a matter of fair and equal treatment not to mention equal effort, talent and strength. 

Venus Williams once argued in an open letter published in The Times that “we enjoy huge and equal celebrity and are paid for the value we deliver to broadcasters and spectators, not the amount of time we spend on the stage.”

In 1974 Billie Jean King, an accomplished and pioneering tennis player, founded the Women’s Sports Foundation to promote the lives of girls and women through physical activity.  This organization is the only group working to advance all sports and physical activities for women of all ages and skill levels. 

Billie Jean King has spent a good part of the last forty years campaigning for equal prize money, and equal status, for women and she deserves a lot of credit for her powerful voice in this debate.  One of the issues she has worked on in recent years was the award disparity between male and female tennis players when they won a grand slam tournament. 

The issue of equal prize money continues to ignite debate, which folds into a larger question about women’s sports—is it valued in the same way as men’s sports?  In some respects yes, now that we have Title IX, but in many respects no.  Women athletes must still prove themselves and their worth as talented individuals working just as hard to be victorious and win the challenges thrown at them. 

One could examine the awards of every sport but tennis does seem to be in the spotlight with this issue.  The decision of Wimbledon to pay players equally sent an important message to the world that they value women’s tennis.  If one of the most well respected and oldest tournaments in the world can finally come out of the dark ages, shouldn’t the rest of us?

However scrutiny is still happening about whether that was the right decision and whether the female players deserve it.  It’s time we respect and honor the physical talent and strength that women bring to the world stage not only because they deserve it, but to show our girls that they can accomplish great physical heights and receive the same support as their male counterparts.

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2 Responses to “Equal money for equal effort”

  1. deroz05 said

    I have been following this story for a while. Venus and Serena have always been active in fighting for equality in women’s pay in this arena. Not only are they women activitist for this very important issue and especially for women in sports but they have just joined the ranks in buying into the Miami Dolphins. They are “the first female African-Americans to hold an ownership stake in an NFL franchise and two of the few African Americans league-wide.” palmebeachpost.com

    Talking about Women Power!

  2. CW said

    I do believe that male and female should earn the same amount of award money “if” the amount of workload is equal. Since the women are now being paid the same as men, who are now being discriminated? THE MEN! If women are able to perform the same duties as men on court then yes equal money should be awarded but contradictory and hypocritical rebuttals kick in about women being physically incapable. I congratulate and I do honestly believe in equality but I believe that the men here are doing more work. Therefore, it is only honest and fair that we cut down the men’s working hours from “5” sets down to “3” sets.

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