Henman says women players wanting pay rises are `greedy'

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TIM HENMAN last night accused women tennis players of being greedy for wanting to be paid the same prize money as their male counterparts.

The British number six seed made his unusually forthright comments after his first-round victory at Wimbledon. The winner of this year's men's tournament will take home pounds 455,000 compared with the pounds 409,500 awarded to the women's champion.

Henman, 24, said he did not support the women's campaign for equal prize money because men play five-set matches while women play only three. Furthermore, the difference in prize money on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tour tournaments was far greater than at grand slam events such as Wimbledon, he said. "I think they [women] should worry about getting their own tournaments at a bigger and better level and then worry about the grand slams," he said. "So I think then if they are still saying they want more in the grand slams, I think that's probably a bit greedy."

Members of the Women's Tennis Association, which includes all the world's leading players, intend to campaign for equal prize money during the next two weeks at Wimbledon. They argue that since many of the women players have a higher profile than the men they should be paid the same amount.

Venus Williams, the number six seed, said she was a "firm advocate" of the campaign for equal prize money. "I think the ladies work equally as hard and give a good amount of effort also, and I definitely will work towards it with the tour," she said.

The Wimbledon chairman, John Curry, recently defended the prize money differential, saying that more people wanted to watch the men's tennis. It was not "commercially reasonable" of the women to be demanding equal pay, he said.