24th Mar 2016
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Gender pay gap: Serena blasts Novak’s sexist remarks

How do you explain the gender pay gap to your kids? That was Serena Williams’ question to Novak Djokovic after he said male tennis stars deserve more prize money than females because their games attract more viewers.

“I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches. I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic’s comments came after Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore’s sexist remarks landed him in hot water. Moore commented that women must go through “hormones and different stuff” and saying:

“If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.”

Moore has since resigned. 

Williams’ statement in response to Djokovic was powerful:

“If I have a daughter who plays tennis and also have a son that plays tennis, I wouldn't say that my son deserves more because he is a man. If they both started at three years old I would say they both deserve the same amount of money.

“Novak is entitled to his opinion but if he has a daughter – I think he has a son right now – he should talk to her and tell her how his son deserves more money because he is a boy,” she said.

Djokovic has since responded on social media, claiming that the adrenaline and excitement after his win on Saturday had overwhelmed him when he’d made the comments.

“Tennis helped me so much in my life and being where I am today, I felt the need to speak about the fairer and better distribution of funds across the board – this was meant for both men and women,” he said.

“We all have to fight for what we deserve. This was never meant to be made into a fight between genders and differences in pay, but in the way all players are rewarded for their play and effort.”

As you may note, there was no actual retraction of his comment that men should be paid more than women.

The idea that women’s sport puts fewer bums on seats and should therefore be paid less is a weak and extremely outmoded way of thinking. Certainly, men’s sport attracts more viewers (and therefore more money). This is due to the singular reason that we are encouraged to perceive men’s endeavours as somehow more serious and legitimate than women’s. We are manipulated into thinking the success of men is more valuable than the success of women. But how are we judging success? By how much money is made from it, of course. I’ve no doubt that, in time, this way of thinking will eventually fade, and we can begin to look at the achievements of men and women as equal.

What do you think of Djokovic’s and Moore’s comments? Did you think Serena’s response was tough, or could she have made a stronger statement? 





    COMMENTS

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    roy
    24th Mar 2016
    9:52am
    Women must be made to play 5 sets, not 3.
    Polly Esther
    24th Mar 2016
    12:51pm
    No it's not 5 mick, it's the best of 5, but you know what, I'm with you on this one. I agree we do get quite a few things easier than the men.
    Mandy
    24th Mar 2016
    10:13am
    A performer on stage who attracts a large audience gets paid far more than one who attracts far less. This should surely apply to tennis players as well.
    TJK
    24th Mar 2016
    10:15am
    Both players failed to mention that the male player on average plays approximately twice as long (and I dare say at a more energetic level) than his female counterpart. If the men played only 'best of 3 set' matches I wonder where the tennix world would go!
    Henry
    25th Mar 2016
    10:51am
    Tennis would become ten-nix
    Mandy
    24th Mar 2016
    10:17am
    I do not watch more men's tennis than women's tennis because of some outmoded manipulation, I watch men's tennis because they play far better tennis.
    margie
    24th Mar 2016
    10:32am
    When women play five sets, then maybe Serena may have a case. Equal pay for equal work seems fair to me, but it's hardly equal when one gender is playing so much more. Having said that, I enjoy men playing tennis much more than the women and so tend to watch the men's matches.
    Cautious
    24th Mar 2016
    11:10am
    I will pay more for a better entertainer no matter what the gender of the performer so why should tennis be different.
    Julian
    24th Mar 2016
    11:37am
    Easily decided; either all of men's matches revert to 3 sets (unlikely) or women play 5. Why doesn't Williams push for 5? She certainly has the physique for it.
    Charlie
    24th Mar 2016
    11:49am
    How will they explain it to the kids? If that's the height of what they have to explain to the kids things wont be too bad.
    Hasbeen
    24th Mar 2016
    11:56am
    This bit of bumph had to be written by a woman.
    johnp
    24th Mar 2016
    12:07pm
    I totally agree that there should be no discrimination whatsoever between genders. But, having said that, I do feel that, for women to earn the same money in tennis as men, they should be required to play the same amount of tennis, ie best of 5 sets, not best of 3 sets. Then, and only then, is everything equal.
    Spud
    24th Mar 2016
    12:12pm
    Agree with comments made so far, ie. play 5 sets, not 3,level of game etc. It's a shame this forum hasn't got a wider coverage. As it is the chattering, politically correct mob hold sway in the press.
    JJ
    24th Mar 2016
    12:24pm
    Maybe the whole system of payment should be changed. How about all players to be rewarded according to the number of sets played? Thus a female winning a three-setter would be paid the same as a man winning a three-set match too. Some of the men's events are also best-of-three, so no problem there. And should a man winning a really tough five-setter get more than one who does it more easily, like 5-0? Surely the degree of effort expended should be reflected in the reward. It all starts to get pretty complicated doesn't it?
    JJ
    24th Mar 2016
    12:25pm
    I meant 3-0!
    johnp
    24th Mar 2016
    12:32pm
    JJ, what you suggest is an interesting idea, and opens up a whole new can of worms. It is complicated, but rewarding players on a "per-set" basis does seem to me to have some basic validity. I'm sure some cleverer people than us will come up with sound reasons why this still wouldn't be fair, but it does, at least, get the ball rolling!
    BtL
    24th Mar 2016
    12:47pm
    If there really is to be equality, change Men's Open tennis to Open Tennis so that women can compete for the same prize money as men.
    Queensland Diva
    24th Mar 2016
    12:50pm
    I don't know about other tournaments, but women in grand slams play 3 sets, men play 5 - why wouldn't them men earn more? Sorry, I am a feminist, but this makes sense to me.
    Kaz
    27th Mar 2016
    11:53am
    Don't apologise for being a feminist, and your comment makes sense.
    The suggestion of earning being based on sets played (JJ) has merit.
    roy
    27th Mar 2016
    8:32pm
    There should be no separate women's tournaments, what happened to equality?
    Buddy
    24th Mar 2016
    1:23pm
    In tournaments where all matches are best of 3 sets then prize money should be the same glitter for men and women's tournaments where men only play best of 5 sets and the women only play best of 3 sets then prize money should be adjusted. Equal work equal pay
    MITZY
    24th Mar 2016
    1:47pm
    Buddy: Equal work equal pay doesn't happen in the majority of jobs - men more often than not get paid more than women.
    The ladies playing tennis for many years got less than the men for their tournaments, its only in recent years they have been paid equal prize money. If you look at the men and women playing other sports such as hockey, soccer, basketball, cricket, etc. etc. probably none of these have equal pay. In fact the lady soccer players until last year were not receiving remuneration much above the unemployment benefit. They certainly have progressed immensely since being able to concentrate solely on their soccer training and nothing else.
    However, all these sports being watched by the general public I think would favour watching the men play their game than the women with theirs. Therefore the men put the bums on the seats and bring the paying crowds to the matches.
    Arisaid
    24th Mar 2016
    1:26pm
    They all get paid too much anyway.
    Henry
    25th Mar 2016
    10:55am
    Absolutely!!
    MITZY
    24th Mar 2016
    1:33pm
    Most of the top tennis players (men and women) go through their matches by beating their opponents three straight or 4-1 (men) and two straight or 1-1 thus needing the third set for a decision (women).
    The majority of matches played by men and women only seem to reach the maximum numbers towards the end of the tournaments.
    Therefore men probably do deserve to be paid more for playing more matches - more matches means more time on court. If the men's/women's grand slams and other major tournaments were played separately from each other (different dates) then I would imagine not many people would attend the women's matches. However, what I would like to see happen is that every tennis player that grunts and shreaks after every ball they hit be penalised ex-amount of dollars for each grunt/shreak. That would bring the game back to the tennis of older days gone by ... I guess this is wishful thinking on my part?

    24th Mar 2016
    2:07pm
    Djokovic is from Eastern Europe where the females are treated more like family servants, especially in the Balkan states. A statement like his does not surprise me in the least.
    roy
    24th Mar 2016
    6:59pm
    What are the women doing out of the kitchen anyway?
    the_Albert
    24th Mar 2016
    4:39pm
    Only two rationales for level of payment have been suggested here: equal pay for equal work and bums on seats (which no doubt extends to money paid for television rights etc). Women would probably lose out on each of these. Are there other rationales? Are women paid as much as men in order to promote the game amongst women and grow the sport? Serena seems to be basing her comments on gender equality: all are equal, therefore equal pay - which is a valid argument in the office, but seems less so in a highly competitive sporting arena where the genders play different tournaments. On a different point, Raymond Moore's comments - hardly sexist - were genially stated and generally approved by commenters here, and the fact that he has had to resign over them seems to indicate unfair treatment and suppression of free speech on a matter of importance in professional sport.
    Adrianus
    24th Mar 2016
    5:03pm
    The top 30 women tennis players are paid more than their male counterparts. If they were paid on effort they would be paid less because they compete over 3 sets, not 5 as the men do. However, women in the second tier are paid far less generally than the men in the second tier. Why is this? Perhaps it's because the attendances are noticeably much lower? I know that is an extremely weak and outmoded way of thinking, but I cannot imagine where the money would come from.
    Waldi
    24th Mar 2016
    5:09pm
    Women around the World make loud request to equal pay with men!! But, none of them request to work as hard as men do!!! Also I cannot imagine any women soccer player be earning Messi's salary of some 50 million Euro ever!!! It'll never happen for no many people watched women kicking the ball at all
    roy
    24th Mar 2016
    5:47pm
    In these times of 'equality" why do we have women only matches anyway?
    Surely all tennis tournaments should be open then we would soon hear the women squawking as ever because thy would have no chance against the men, they would be thrashed off the court.
    Serena probably would be lucky to make the top 250 tennis players in the world.
    Ageing but not getting old
    24th Mar 2016
    9:48pm
    WALDI: Most MEN playing soccer around the world will never get what Lionel Messi is earning! He is a SUPER-elite amongst a group of elite players.
    In general, most good/elite male athletes can run faster & strike/hit etc any type of ball harder than most any females in the same sport. This is primarily because of the respective amount of musculature of the two genders. MICK: However, there are examples of woman players (e.g. in golf and other sports who are equal or better than the vast majority of male players. Likewise, there are many men in tennis (e.g. that 'second tier' of elite players) that might think twice about playing against Serena....... Admittedly, she is unusual among women players, but there will always be another female player down the road who will achieve what Serena has achieved and even surpass her in the future, I'm sure. But watching a really elite female tennis game is as much of a joy to see the play evolve. Tennis isn't just about speed and force; it's also about ball placement, agility in fore and back hand play as well as the brains and flexibility to plan serves & returns to suit every moment of play....those are skills which most elite women & men have in equal shares.
    roy
    25th Mar 2016
    9:35am
    Ageing but not etc, all tournaments should be open to both sexes and the women would win zilch, hear them talk about equality then.
    That includes golf or whatever sport you like to choose, even the beast chefs in the world are usually men along with composers,painters etc etc.
    roy
    25th Mar 2016
    9:46am
    Should be best not beast.
    Kaz
    27th Mar 2016
    11:59am
    Excellent comment 'aging not getting old'
    Mick, stop digging your hole...
    roy
    27th Mar 2016
    6:36pm
    kaz, please explain your comment as to why I am digging a hole in your opinion.
    All tournaments should be open for equality, do you not agree and if not why not?
    roy
    28th Mar 2016
    11:36am
    The silence from Kaz is deafening!
    Gra
    24th Mar 2016
    6:23pm
    If female tennis players want equal pay they must accept being expected to play the same amount of tennis. that is play best of 5 not best of 3 as they do now. Attracting more spectators could also be a factor but I think if all that grunting was stopped more people might be interested in watching.
    Gra
    24th Mar 2016
    6:23pm
    If female tennis players want equal pay they must accept being expected to play the same amount of tennis. that is play best of 5 not best of 3 as they do now. Attracting more spectators could also be a factor but I think if all that grunting was stopped more people might be interested in watching.
    JJ
    27th Mar 2016
    5:15pm
    I would agree on the subject of grunting. That is a massive turn-off to me, and I won't watch it with the TV sound on. Unfortunately that means I can't hear the sounds of the balls and racquets either, so a lot is lost.
    Pablo
    24th Mar 2016
    6:45pm
    If the women's matches were best of 5, then I would agree that they should get equal pay. As it stands at the moment, men's matches are best of 5 and women's matches are best of 3, so NO, they should not be paid the same as the men.
    Franky
    24th Mar 2016
    9:27pm
    I think Djokovic's argument makes good sense, and has nothing to do with sexism. I bet female porn stars make more money than male ones, it's the simple rules of demand and supply.
    Virginia
    24th Mar 2016
    11:01pm
    I agree women have to play 5 sets to equal men then they can say they are equal for equal pay for the equal enjoyment from fans. Do the time enjoy the rewards. that means play as long and you deserve the same.
    Mandy
    24th Mar 2016
    11:43pm
    If the major tennis tournaments were split into men's and women's sections, each being played at different times in the year, I doubt if the women's tournament would attract anywhere near what the men's tournament would attract, whether they played best of 5 or not.
    roy
    25th Mar 2016
    9:32am
    So so true but they should be "open" anyway and the women would win zilch.
    RJ
    25th Mar 2016
    11:07am
    I agree with Novak,when the ladies play the best of five sets instead of three,then equal prize money is fair.............It is not now.
    RJ
    JAID
    28th Mar 2016
    5:32pm
    It might be a game at our level but its a business at every other. A business can pay more to those who draw more income to the business and it is the job of the 'performer' to maximise their own income within that business.

    There is no doubt Serena knows that. Not all business people apply logic or fairness (or integrity) in support of their aim to increase income and Serena has no qualms bringing gender into play even where the argument for business profitabiity cannot be refuted...she knows gender is a trump card that can lead here to disproportionate gain.

    I dissagree with Mick on this one. If women can make the business of tennis more profitable in one set then they are worth more. if they can play 10 and make it more profitable they are worth more also. if they play 5 and do not draw as much profit then they have played 2 more sets but can expect no more.

    If people want equal pay for each gender in the sport business then they need to vote with their feet by attending the matches or viewing them with ad breaks or buying the rubbish they back.

    The Williams' have been fantastic performers but playing ability and integrity obviously don't walk in parallel.
    Margaret Thompson
    23rd Jun 2016
    12:54pm
    *sigh* The age old dilemma, and the same, stale old arguments - mostly from men but, alarmingly, more and more from our own sex.

    Women play the best of 3 sets in tennis because women, generally speaking, do not have the same stamina as male players. It's a fact. Any woman who is/appears to be as strong as a man has her femininity - nay! her actual sex - questioned: Amélie Mauresmo, anyone? So the argument about making women play the best of 5 sets is moot until all women tennis players become amazons and spectators don't hold it against them.

    Women's tennis, back in the day - the 1970s and '80s - was exciting and as popular as men's tennis. I'd argue that crowds dwindled when women became less "feminine" and particularly when grunting became the norm. I stopped watching men's tennis when there were no more personalities in the game - on either "side - but I wouldn't have watched men's tennis if they grunted as much as some of the modern female players. It's. Just. Annoying.

    Regardless of my opinion as to what's led to the decline in popularity of women's tennis, women tennis players expend the same level of effort as men do FOR THEIR SEX. Just because a female's stamina is not the same as a man's doesn't mean that women don't perform - even outperform - male colleagues in fields of endeavour.

    Anyway, why is any of this even an argument anymore? Men who perform to the best of their physical/mental/emotional ability should not be paid more than women who perform to the best of their physical/mental/emotional ability because of their sex. Is that so difficult to understand?


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