Gilles Simon has another swipe at women... after losing

Frenchman beaten easily but says 'all 128 men in draw' back his stance on equal pay

It would be an exaggeration to suggest there was a cheer in the women's locker room when the result of the opening match on Court Three came through, but there will have been a few smiles among Wimbledon's female players when they heard Gilles Simon had been beaten in straight sets.

The Frenchman, known as "little chicken" for his spindly legs, caused a stir in the henhouse when he suggested that women did not deserve the equal prize money they receive at Wimbledon. The fact the 27-year-old had just been elected to the players' council of the ATP (which runs the men's tour) made his comments doubly provocative.

"The male players spent twice as long on court at Roland Garros [during the recent French Open] as the women," Simon said at the weekend. "The equality in salaries isn't something that works in sport. Men's tennis remains more attractive than women's tennis at the moment."

Such comments, coming when men are still paid an average 15 per cent more than women in the workplace 42 years after the Equal Pay Act, inevitably provoked an angry response. "Tennis is aligned with our modern, progressive society when it comes to the principle of equality. I can't believe in this day and age that anyone can still think otherwise," said Stacey Allaster, chairman and chief executive of the WTA, which runs the women's tour.

Yesterday Simon clarified his comments, explaining that his complaint was not that men play five sets to the women's three, and thus spent more time on court, but that the women's game was simply less entertaining.

The 13th seed said: "I am for equal pay in life, but not in entertainment. It's not about how hard you work. It's about the show. I believe men's tennis is more interesting than women's tennis. You have to be paid on that basis."

Simon noted that women, in complaining that they received less income on the circuit outside of the big events, confirmed that sponsors and spectators were more interested in the men.

"We have equal prize money because women's tennis at the time was as interesting as the men. Unfortunately most of those women stopped. We have Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal], Novak [Djokovic] and there is a huge difference."

Maria Sharapova's acidic response was that "more people watch my matches than his". Simon did not contest that. "Maria is more famous than me. She deserves more money than me. That is not the problem. It's not about me. Just check the price of the tickets for the finals here [men £120, women £105]."

Simon's views, he said, were shared "by all 128 men [in the draw]". When asked why the likes of Federer were not prepared to say so publicly he responded: "Maybe they can't say it, maybe they will lose $2m in [sponsors'] contracts. But we've had the conversation in the locker room and, trust me, they agree."

Simon said the reason he spoke out was because "there are top-100 players, someone like at 80, who can't pay their coach because he doesn't earn enough money". Presumably Simon, who is ranked 13, believes if the women got less, the men would get more.

Independent columnist and veteran coach Nick Bollettieri disagreed. "There's enough money going around to share it. It's not like the old days when guys were getting $25 a game."

There are very few other sports where men and women compete in the same arena but not against each other. The Diamond League athletics meets are one. Every event, male and female, carries the same $10,000 prize money, though appearance fees vary enormously.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Life & Style
The exterior of a central London Angus Steakhouse
food + drink
VIDEO
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget rest of the year
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit