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.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Suggested Topics
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy