Is it still a man’s world in tennis?
With Wimbledon in full swing, you may have noticed that one of the stories related to Britain’s favourite tennis tournament is less to do with trophies, and more to do with the way players are being treated. More specifically, there’s a debate about the way male and female tennis players are treated differently.
With accusations of gender bias flying around, and some major names already in hot water over their remarks, we decided to have a look at the differences between the two genders when it comes to a few key parts of this world-famous tennis event.
There’s a lot to play for when it comes to Wimbledon – literally. Thankfully, there’s no disparity between the men and women, with everyone being treated equally in terms of prize money since 2007. This year’s prize fund got a 5% increase on last year’s, meaning that there’s a total fund of £28.1 million to play for. This makes Wimbledon the best-paying tennis competition in the world. The man and woman who win the singles events will be going home with £2 million each, and every runner-up singles player will be heading back home with £1 million. Semi-finalists take £500,000, and quarter finalists take £250,000, which is definitely not to be sniffed at.
It’s not a bad deal if you get knocked out early either, with those who exit in the first round still taking away £30,000, those going in the second round getting £50,000 and those eliminated in the third round earning £80,000.
The Woman’s Tennis Association are fighting back against a male dominated world with their “Strong is Beautiful” campaign, which showcases female tennis players in a series of action photos, or explaining the struggles they endured to become successful female tennis players.
However, in a survey of television-based tennis advertising commercials, adverts which featured male stars ranked better than those featuring women. Advertisers argue that, since the men are better known, they make a more logical choice to publicise a brand. Indeed, John McEnroe, who famously shouted “You cannot be serious” at an umpire, repeats his famous line in adverts for American Express, Dayzers Lottery and Tesco. It seems his infamous temper tantrum will ensure McEnroe is well-paid into his retirement.
Tennis star Novak Djokovic got himself in trouble when he claimed that people are more interested in watching men’s tennis than women’s tennis, not long after Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore said that women’s tennis “rides on the coat-tails of the men”. Serena Williams told Moore that his statement was offensive. However, you can’t argue with the cold, hard facts. 973 million people watched the men’s 2015 ATP tour, but only 395 million turned on for the women’s 2015 WTA events and finals.
The Telegraph published an article following a complaint that TV coverage was heavily biased in favour of the men’s matches. A quick calculation showed that, on one day of the 2015 tournament, 93% of matches shown were men’s. In fact, the lowest the men’s coverage got was 73%, so still considerably more air time was devoted to men than women. It’s no wonder that men command more attention and money when the cameras are prioritising them.
Sponsorship is what keeps a player going, financially. Yes, large prizes are good, but they can’t be relied upon as a regular income. Even at the lowest level of the game, you’ll find sponsors offering 500 euros for a few weeks.
In 2014, British star Andy Murray signed a four-year, £15million a year deal with clothing manufacturer Under Armour, but he’s far from the highest paid in the business. Roger Federer signed a deal with Nike which secured him £90 million over ten years. Novak Djokovic receives sponsorship from Uniqlo which totals just over £6 million per year, as well as an undisclosed amount from Adidas since he wears their brand of shoes.
American Serena Williams, on the other hand, does not seem to do quite as well as the boys. She takes home around £9 million a year, despite being a household name and a big draw to the world of tennis.
While tennis does seem to offer a slightly more level playing field in terms of prize money, it still has a long way to go in terms of getting its female stars into the public eye as much as it does with its male stars. However, the female tennis players of the world should count their lucky stars that it’s not football that they’re involved in. Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the modern greats, takes home £700,000 per week, while Daniela Alves Lima, a famous female midfielder from Brazil, received just over £5,000, which works out as 140 times less.
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