Andy Roddick and Andy Murray are among the men's tennis players to support recent comments made by Gilles Simon supporting unequal pay for women at major tennis tournaments. Top female players, including Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, not surprisingly, disagree.
A sampling of quotes regarding the equal pay between men and women at Grand Slams:
Gilles Simon: "The equality in salaries isn't something that works in sport. Men's tennis remains more attractive than women's tennis at the moment."
Maria Sharapova: "I'm sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than his."
Gilles Simon: "I have the feeling that men's tennis is actually more interesting than women's tennis. When that Shakira is singing, she is earning more money than most of the men because everyone wants to see her. That's it."
Serena Williams: "She's way hotter than he is."
Andy Roddick: "Based on any other business in the world, the more you sell the more you make."
Gilles Simon: "It's not about me, one player or another one. Maria is more famous than me. I know it. She deserves to win more money than me. That's not the problem. Just check the ticket prices from the men's final and the women's final for example. It's not about me anymore; it's about the tennis. That's the way it works in life and everything."
Ana Ivanovic: "It's always been talked about, but we [have] different physiques, as well. I think we earn our money, as well. I mean, I was out there 2 1/2 hours today."
Sam Stosur: "I think we deserve it. I think people come out and watch us play because they want to watch us play. I think there are a bunch of men's matches that go five [sets] that are pretty boring to watch, as well. It's not like a best-of-five match is better than a best-of-three, I don't think."
Serena Williams: "I started playing tennis at 2 years old. I'm sure he started when he was 2 years old as well. I worked just as hard as he did. I'm sure he continues to work hard as I work hard, as well as everyone that's on a professional level."
Sloane Stephens: "I don't care what he says about anything. He hit me with a ball the first time I was a ball kid. He hit me in the chest, because he lost a point and lost the set. He turned around and slammed the ball with his racket and hit me ... and I've never spoken to him since then."
If there was a tournament for quotes, Stephens would have defeated Serena in the final.
I don't know where I stand on the issue. Television rights deals, merchandise sales and the gate for Grand Slams aren't divided by gender. Men and women play on the same courts and are broadcast on the same network. Unless there's some definitive research, I don't know if the "play for pay" defense is valid. It costs the same to go see the three-hour "Titanic" as it does to watch the 90-minute "Shrek." You don't pay more to attend a three-hour movie like "Titanic" than a 90-minute one like "Shrek."
But if there's some way to prove that men drive the majority money, then I don't see a problem with imbalanced pay. This isn't an issue on equal rights, no matter what some people might say. (I don't want to say this Howard Byrant piece is holier than thou, but if it were any more sanctimonious, his headshot would feature a halo.) To echo what Roddick says, this is business, not personal.