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Equal Pay, Equal Play? Time For Equality In Tennis

Is it time we had true equality for tennis?

At this time of year, I love watching the Australian Open. It’s part of our summer tradition. As someone who didn’t grow up playing tennis, I watch on in admiration as they play. They are highly talented sportspeople. I can’t help but feel inspired.

I love that the pay is equal for both males and females. This is a huge step forward for sport and fantastic news for women.

One thing bothers me though. Something that isn’t talked about enough. Something that just doesn’t seem logical.

The fact that women and men get equal pay yet women don’t play matches as long as the men. Men play the best of five; women, the best of three.

How is this equal? How is this fair?

We can’t argue for equality and not play by the same rules. We can’t have it both ways. That’s not on.

I feel like a bloke couldn’t say this as easily without getting shot down. They would be accused of all sorts of things and blasted for such a comment. Society doesn’t look kindly upon men talking about equality with women.

I just don’t understand why women can’t play up to five sets too. They are professional athletes, super fit and strong. They are playing against the same gender. I don’t feel that we can argue for equal pay and then not do the same work.

When spectators fork out big dollars to watch tennis at grand slams, they want to see a good match. They want to watch the competitors battle it out. They want a chance to see the underdog make a comeback. This isn’t as possible with a two-set match. It’s often over before it’s really started.

If I had a chance to watch a men’s or women’s match, I’d probably choose men. Why? I want to get my money’s worth. I don’t want it over in forty minutes. I’d feel cheated.

When I posted this to social media at the start of the Australian Open, I had a variety of responses.

Jason: “I paid big bucks to see the men’s and women’s semi-finals 6 years ago. The ladies match didn’t go past an hour with 2 sets. Expensive and short-lived entertainment. I get that each match is different but when you walk out at 7 pm on a Friday night, you feel ripped off. It’s not right.”

Ana: “You’re going to bring the boys out with this post!”

Track 2 Freedom: “Women are more than capable of playing the extra sets. You get paid the same, so play the same.”

I have a strong sense of justice. I always have. I like things fair. Equal. I like it when girls and women are given the change and opportunity to do what men do.

When I was eighteen, I went to Sri Lanka on a short-term mission trip. I remember one afternoon at a church camp, a group were playing a social game of cricket. Men of all ages were playing. A friend and I asked if we could join in. The guys in charge shook their heads. “Girls aren’t allowed to play.”

I was shocked. I knew that women have fewer rights and freedoms in other cultures but this felt so unfair. It was discrimination.

My life wasn’t in danger and it shouldn’t have been a big deal. It is minute compared to what so many girls and women worldwide face every day. It still angered me though. I’m sporty. I like smashing a ball over the fence in backyard cricket and would have relished the chance to show them what girls are capable of.

Years down the track, I still remember this moment. I remember how unfair it felt.

I love that women’s sport is gaining traction, media attention and sponsorship. The pay is increasing and this is exciting. We need to show the world that we are just as capable as men. That means doing the same work.

Anything less and it gives the message that we are not as strong. That we need special rules just for us. We aren’t as strong, We need things to be easier.

I’m not okay with that. I don’t want special treatment.

I don’t think I’m the only one.

What do you think? Should women play the same amount of sets as men?

Equal Pay, Equal Play?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below, on Instagram or Facebook.

Melanie Wegener

One Response

  1. How’s this for controversial: Equal rights for all!
    Just have 1 final for everyone. No need to be concerned about treading on anyone’s rights. Let’s see how Sabalenka fares against Sinner! Winner takes all! Feminists, tell me I’m wrong ?

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