Wimbledon edges closer to equality for women

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The Independent Online

Wimbledon's prize-money will break £10m for the first time this year, and the women's singles champion will be paid £600,000 - only £30,000 less than the men's winner.

Wimbledon's prize-money will break £10m for the first time this year, and the women's singles champion will be paid £600,000 - only £30,000 less than the men's winner.

Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are still considered to be worth less on the court than Roger Federer and Andy Roddick, but the gap is narrowing.

Having for years dismissed the women's campaign for equal pay, which they achieved at the US Open and the Australian Open, the All England Club said yesterday they were "delighted to recognise the current stature of the women's game."

Tim Phillips, the Wimbledon chairman, said: "Our decisions have always been based on market forces. We note the new support coming into the women's game from a number of sponsors, Secondly, there are a dozen or more top players now competing for the main titles, and we believe that is significant for the entertainment value in the women's game."

He added: "The value of the prize-money on the WTA Tour is substantially less than on the ATP Tour, and there are only two tournaments in the world which pay equal prize-money.

"In earlier years, all sorts of other issues were raised - such as, regularly the top 10 women players win as much or more prize-money than the top 10 men players because they play doubles as well. And women earn more per minute and per game than the men.

"But the bottom line is you get all this information and you have to make a judgement which you believe is fair to the men and the women."

Last year Federer received £602,500 for winning the men's title and Sharapova £560,500 as the women' s champion. Roddick, runner-up in the men's singles, was paid £301,250. Serena Williams's runner-up prize was £280,250. This year the losing men's finalist will get £315,000 and the women's runner-up £300,000.

Prize-money for the women's singles has increased overall by 5.9 per cent, and the men's has increased by 4.6 per cent. The differential is caused by the women receiving an additional 2.5 per cent from the quarter-finals onwards.

At current exchange rates, Wimbledon's £10,085,510 prize pot is the highest offered for a tennis tournament, but, as Phillips said, the US Open "may well trump it later in the year."

The Women's Tennis Association, while appreciating a "step in the right direction", stressed their continued commitment to ensuring eventual parity. A statement said: "We look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with Wimbledon to achieve equal prize-money."

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