The discussion against equal prize money in tennis has delved deeper into the land of ludicrousness, with the latest opponents citing Serena Williams’ swift Wimbledon semi-final victory as grounds for their argument.
Serena beating Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-0 in 48 minutes to reach Saturday’s final somehow became an excuse for some journalists and tennis followers to say that women do not deserve equal pay, noting that two of the men’s quarter-finals the day before had gone to five sets.
Host broadcaster, the BBC, made matters worse when a tweet from their official Twitter account said the following: “Her match lasted just 48 minutes…but Serena Williams says female players deserve equal pay”. The tweet has since been deleted but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there who agreed with it and are propagating such baseless arguments.
If the length of matches dictated which player gets paid more, then by that logic, Tomas Berdych should get more money than Roger Federer considering the Czech spent the most time on court in his first five rounds – 13 hours and 19 minutes – compared to all the other semi-finalists. Federer spent the least time on court en route to the semis, amassing just nine hours and 53 minutes in comparison.
Was anyone complaining about equal pay when Federer dismissed Marcus Willis in straight sets in one hour and 25 minutes in the second round, while Serena played a high-quality three-setter against Christina McHale that lasted two and a half hours at the same stage of the tournament? Are people so narrow-minded that they’ve missed the unbelievable three-hour fourth round match between Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova that saw the latter edge through 9-7 in the third, in what was arguably match of the fortnight?
Also, if time on court meant anything when it comes to money, does that mean if a player wins a match via retirement or a walkover, should she or he be paid less?
Do the people dismissing how big of a draw card Serena is compared to so many male players not notice the number of spectators she and Venus have been attracting during their doubles matches all week? Yes, Serena has been juggling singles and doubles this fortnight, playing in front of sell-out crowds in both. The fact Serena then has to sit in front of the press and answer to such absurd arguments while she is on the cusp of making further history and is one match away from equalling Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 grand slam titles is baffling.