Article: "Women ace men in tennis pay league"
here's a quite interesting article from the Sunday Times about tennis being the first major sport where women earn more money than men. Enjoy!
Women ace men in tennis pay league
by Maurice Chittenden
June 15, 2003
WOMEN tennis players have smashed through the pay barrier to overtake men as the sport’s biggest earners. On the eve of next week’s Wimbledon tournament it has emerged that the three players with the biggest winnings in the world so far this year are all female.
Now experts are predicting that for the first time a woman will top the annual pay league in a major sport.
Although women are demanding “equal pay”, the achievement suggests they are not being held back by the few remaining major tournaments such as Wimbledon and the French Open that offer higher prize money to male players.
The highest-paid woman is Kim Clijsters, 20, who has won £998,600 this year, followed by her fellow Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne, 21, with £919,300 and America’s Serena Williams with £887,300.
All three have made more than the highest-earning man, Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero, 23. He has won £883,600, nearly £115,000 less than Clijsters, even though he has played in 11 tournaments, two more than her.
The figures do not take account of the sponsorship deals and modelling fees of women such as Anna Kournikova, the Russian voted the sexiest player on the circuit in a recent magazine poll. Kournikova has estimated earnings of £10m a year, although she has never won a major event.
The Belgians and Williams, however, have earned the hard way, beating the men on court earnings alone with half this year’s season complete. There are 58 tournaments on the women’s circuit, seven fewer than the men’s.
Last year, Williams earned a total of £2.35m but was pipped in the pay league by Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt, 22 — Clijsters’ boyfriend — whose victory in the men’s singles at Wimbledon helped lift his pay to £2.76m.
Williams, 22, last year’s Wimbledon women’s champion, and her sister Venus, 23 on Tuesday, will be named the highest earners in women’s tennis when Forbes magazine publishes its annual list of the richest American celebrities this week.
The sport’s male establishment holds that women have an unfair advantage. While pressing for equal pay, the top women players have kept to three-set singles matches, leaving them fit enough to play doubles and mixed doubles matches as well.
Clijsters lost to Henin-Hardenne, in the French Open women’s singles final last weekend but eased some of the pain when she and Japan’s Ai Sugiyama, 27, captured the doubles title.
Many of the top male players, exhausted after five-set matches, resist offers to play in doubles partnerships, which are often won by “specialist” pairs.
Government ministers such as Patricia Hewitt, the trade and industry secretary and minister for women, and Tessa Jowell, the culture, media and sport secretary, have raised the issue of equal earnings for women at Wimbledon in line with the US and Australian Opens.
But Tim Phillips, the chairman of Wimbledon, calculated that last year the top 10 women’s players at the tournament earned on average 3.3% more than the top men. For every game they played, the women earned an average £815 to the men’s £609.
Phillips said: “Women players like Serena can play more matches which last less time and collect more money while the top men feel they cannot succeed in both singles and doubles. We think we have got it just about right.”
This year’s women’s singles champion at Wimbledon will receive £535,000, £40,000 less than the men’s champion. The top prize for women at the French Open was just £15,000 behind the men’s title purse of £596,000, won by Ferrero.
Pat Cash, the former Wimbledon champion, said yesterday: “I don’t think anybody has a right to bitch. Kournikova probably makes more than everybody put together, but there are only four women players who can ever win a tournament.”
But Annabel Croft, the former British number one, said: “It’s fantastic for the women. It’s not just two weeks of work. It’s 15 years of dedication and hard work.”