French tennis player slams equal pay for men and women
French tennis player Gilles Simon, the world number 13, sparked a bitter row on Wednesday when he insisted men should receive more prize money than women at Wimbledon because they play more attractive tennis.
AFP - French star Gilles Simon, who has been elected on to the ATP Players Council, has reopened the bitter debate over equal prize money by claiming men's tennis is far more attractive.
Simon, the world number 13, criticised the move towards equality, where all the Grand Slams pay their champions the same amount despite men playing best-of-five sets and not three.
"We often speak of equal money, but I think it's something that doesn't work in sport," said Simon.
"Tennis is the only sport today where we have parity even though men's tennis remains more attractive than women's at this time."
Simon has also criticised the move towards more joint-tournaments outside of the four majors -- last week, men and women played at the same event in Eastbourne and 's-Hertogenbosch.
"I am not against mixed tournaments, it's just that I think today men's tennis is really ahead compared to women."
Simon also told French reporters: "When Rome became a joint tournament it was to save the women because I remember a final with 20 spectators".
The French player is in action at Wimbledon later Wednesday when he faces Xavier Malisse in a second round tie.
Simon's remarks drew a stinging rebuke from compatriot Marion Bartoli, France's top women's player and the 2007 Wimbledon runner-up.
"Over the whole year, we are a long way from winning as much as the men -- only in a few tournaments and Grand Slams," said Bartoli.
"We are fully-invested as much as them. The physical demands, training, investment on a personal level are the same as theirs," she said.
"The early rounds of men's matches do not attract many people either. Players who really attract spectators in men's tennis, there are only five to six."