Equal prize money - but Wimbledon's women win game, set and cashBy REBECCA CAMBER
Last updated at 00:03 29 June 2007
When Wimbledon brought in the same prize money for men and women this year, the aim was equality between the sexes.
But the result is that the ladies are coming out on top.
They are actually being paid almost twice as much as their male counterparts for each game played at the championships this year, Daily Mail research suggests.
In the first round, female players received an average of £481.93 a game - compared with only £284.70 for men.
The pay gap arises because women play the best of three sets, while the men play best of five.
Women's singles games have also tended to be shorter then men's, meaning men have earned £1.29 a minute compared with £1.97 for their female counterparts.
The stark pay divide comes after a high-profile campaign by past champions Venus Williams, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Maria Sharapova for the same financial reward as men at SW19.
Previously, male players have always earned more. For example in 1968, when prize money was awarded for the first time after more than 70 years of strict amateurism, the men's champion Rod Laver won £2,000, while Billie Jean King received only £750 for claiming the women's title - 37.5 per cent of the men's prize.
In this year's first round, men's matches have comprised an average 35 games and 121 minutes, compared with 21 games and 79 minutes for women.
The Daily Mail research threatened to reignite the row over prize money as female tennis stars queued up to defend their right to parity.
Venus Williams said: "You should definitely see the merit in people getting paid or being treated equal as people, not on sex."
France's Tatiana Golovin, who raised eyebrows yesterday with her red underwear, said: "I think we've come a long way from where we were. With Wimbledon giving the equal prize money and starting at the French, I think we've really come a long way."
Andy Murray's mother, Judy Murray also welcomed the findings, saying: "I think that it is a great time to be a woman in professional tennis."
But critics said that the figures proved the pay review by the All England Club was unfair.
Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: "I don't think it's fair. As far as I am concerned, women's matches are not the same as men's.
"It seems, therefore, perfectly fair for two different rates of pay. I agree that there should be equal pay for equal work, but I do not think that there is a case for equal pay when you have games with different lengths."
Former champion Pat Cash has also attacked equal pay in the past. He said: "Men should be paid more. If you ask people to work double the hours, is it fair for them to get paid more? Men play five sets to women's three."
The wage split was calculated by the number of games played in the first round of the championships.
In total, male players spent 7,739 minutes on court in 2,248 games.
The longest match was 251 minutes between Tim Henman and Carlos Moya.
Female players spent a total of 5,078 minutes on court in 1,328 games, with the longest match being the 158 minutes it took Eleni Daniilidou of Greece to beat Gisela Dulko of Argentina.
Previously, the pay for those losing in the first round was split, with men getting £9,830 and women £7,860.
But this year both sexes receive £10,000, while those who go on to win the singles title are paid £700,000.
Sadly for Tim Henman, that won't be him. Britain's last remaining hope crashed out of the championships yesterday for the 14th time in his career despite a gallant comeback against Feliciano Lopez.
After Henman's first-round victory over Carlos Moya, a player 52 places above him in the world rankings, hopes had been high that he might once again achieve a thrilling run to the later stages.
A crowd of 13,000 on Centre Court, plus thousands more watching the big TV screen on Henman Hill, saw their 32-year-old hero lose the first two sets on tiebreaks to the Spaniard six years his junior.
Thrillingly, Tiger Tim showed some of his old form as he won the next two sets to square the match.
But he was unable to sustain it for the final set and lost it convincingly, 6-1.
This means that Britain has no remaining singles players in the third round and marks the nation's worst Wimbledon performance for 17 years.
As the Lawn Tennis Association started its traditional inquest into the failure, Henman offered his own bleak assessment.
He said: "It's depressing. But you know, it's reality. That's where we're at."
Despite speculation that he will soon retire from tennis, Henman insisted he would be back at Wimbledon next year.
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