Draper squares up to All England Club over battle for equal prize-money for women

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The Independent Online

Roger Draper, the Lawn Tennis Association's new chief executive, publicly opposed the All England Club for the second time in a fortnight yesterday when he backed the campaign for women to receive equal pay at Wimbledon. Draper, who had criticised Wimbledon for rewarding mediocrity by giving too many wild cards to moderate British players, is a member of the All England Club's Championships committee.

"The personal view is that we should have equal pay," Draper said. "Tennis needs to be a modern sport and one which reflects the wider world. My vote on the Championships committee will continue to be for equality of pay. The LTA jointly host these Championships and we will continue to lobby and work with the All England Club to ensure that in future years there is parity."

The US and Australian Opens already offer equal pay. The French pays the same to its men's and women's champions, though the total prize fund for men (£4.42m) is still bigger than for women's (£4.05m). At Wimbledon the men's pot is £5.2m compared to £4.45m for the women and the men's champion is paid £655,000, £30,000 more than his female equivalent.

The All England Club, which has defended its policy by pointing out that men play five sets and women three, refused to comment yesterday but will have noticed a distinct shift in its relations with the LTA. Such a public disagreement would have been unimaginable under John Crowther, Draper's predecessor, but the new man, who has already cleared out a raft of senior LTA executives, is clearly determined to make his mark.

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