Women Deserve Equal Pay Scale at Wimbledon

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 3, 1999 | Go to article overview

Women Deserve Equal Pay Scale at Wimbledon


Byline: Patricia Babcock McGraw

The high and mighty, penny-pinching, and, above all, sexist powers-that-be at Wimbledon are lucky they don't have a "girl-cott" on their hands right now.

By refusing to ante up and pay the same prize money to the women as they give the men, they sent a painfully prehistoric message: women aren't worth it.

Well, they couldn't be more wrong. And it would have served them right if the women had decided to ditch that inequitable, backwards tournament this week.

"It frustrates me," said Lindsay Davenport. "If others joined me, I would sit out an event to make the point."

For some reason, it doesn't seem to matter to Wimbledon officials that female tennis players - like Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Venus and Serena Williams, Martina Hingis, Davenport and Anna Kournikova - are some of the most popular and recognized athletes in the world right now. Nor does it matter that the women's game is leaving the men's game in its dust.

HBO, Wimbledon's cable carrier, devotes 70 percent of its tournament coverage to the women. Last fall on CBS, the U.S. Open women's final clearly bettered the men's in the ratings. And a poll by USA Today last month concluded that 75 percent of those surveyed preferred women's tennis to men's tennis.

Why? Because women's tennis is far more fan-friendly. There are plenty of competitive, long-lasting volleys to captivate even the most pretentious of tennis crowds. Serves are fast, but actually returnable. And strategy and finesse are not lost arts.

Plus, the women's game has personality. It's full of juicy stories, controversies, rivalries.

Just look at the aforementioned players.

At 30, the seemingly ageless Graf nearly has returned to her old self after overcoming a lot of injuries and her father's well-known legal problems.

Over the last several years, Seles has lost her father, been stabbed in the back (literally) and put up with numerous injuries. Yet, somehow, she has managed to keep it together as one of the best players on the tour.

The Williams sisters, of course, are always drawing attention to themselves - whether it's for their beaded heads or their accusations of racism on the tour.

Likewise, Hingis has grown more controversial and troubled by the minute. First, she publicly chided a French player for her sexual orientation. Then, she acted like a brat at the French Open - crying for her mother when the crowd rode her too hard.

Then there's Lindsay Davenport and Anna Kournikova, who might as well be at the opposite ends of the self-esteem spectrum. Davenport used to be the poster girl for half the women in America. She was dissatisfied with her look - especially her weight. Since then, she has slimmed down and become one of the best players on the tour. …

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