Simon faces verbal volley over women's pay stance
TENNIS:WIMBLEDON WAS afflicted by an outbreak of foot-in-mouth this week. The quarantine period has yet to be determined. Gilles Simon was adjudged to have crossed a line. Ivo Karlovic had his issues with a white one.
Simon, newly elected to the ATP Council, decided to peddle a view that men were being demeaned and exploited financially by having to accept the same prize money as women at the four Grand Slams and three Masters tournaments. The women queued up to offer some volleying practice; unfortunately for the Frenchman it was of the verbal variety.
Their comments ranged from the gently chiding to the terse. After his opening remarks Simon was called back a second day and under cross examination, tried to offer a more persuasive argument in clarifying a point of two; very much a case of second serve and break points against.
The synopsis of his views were that men should earn more in prize money because they had a more attractive product and not because they played best of five sets as opposed to the three in the women’s game.
He introduced into the evidence the price of tickets for the respective finals at Wimbledon. Independent research revealed and by way of comparison that a debenture ticket for Centre Court next Saturday (women’s final) costs £850 (€1,050), while the following day (men’s final) it is an eye-watering £3,500 ( wimbledonticketsonline.co.uk).
Emily Davison might have thrown herself in front of an Andy Roddick serve had she been around to witness this debate. Simon maintained he was aware of how much women had to struggle for equity in so many aspects of life and that he supports that – but just not in terms of being paid the same money as men to play tennis.
He reasoned: “It just doesn’t work in entertainment, because entertainment is not about being a man or woman. It’s just about the public coming to watch you, or not. It’s not about how hard you work. You can work hard and be a very famous singer. You can work hard and just sing in your bathroom. That’s the way it works. It’s maybe sad but this is the way it works.
“It has nothing to do with men and women. In life in general, of course, I’m for it. Tomorrow if women’s tennis is more interesting than men’s tennis, if the price of the woman’s final is higher than the price of the men’s final, they will deserve to win more money than us.”
Simon was now sitting on the parapet, in full view of his critics.
He maintained his views were shared by the entire men’s locker-room. Roger Federer, who had been earlier invited to join the debate, demurred, offering the classic, “on the one hand . . . and on the other hand” argument.