Wimbledon, England: Genteel, old-fashioned Wimbledon is steeped in tradition. There’s one custom, however, that has finally been discarded.
Women, at last, will be paid as much as the men.
After years of holding out against equal pay, the All England Club yielded to 21st century realities on 22 February 2007 and agreed to offer the same prize money to both sexes at the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament.
“I knew it was just a matter of time,” defending Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo said. “They resisted the longest they could. They have made the right decision and they really had no choice.”
The move puts Wimbledon in line with the other Grand Slams. The U.S. Open and Australian Open have paid equal prize money for years. The French Open paid the men’s and women’s champions the same for the first time last year, although the overall prize fund remained bigger for the men.
Wimbledon will pay equal money from the first round through the final at the June 25-July 8 grass-court championships.
“It’s good news for all the women players, and recognizes their major contribution to Wimbledon and we also believe it will serve as a positive encouragement for women in sports,” club chairman Tim Phillips said. “In short, good for tennis, good for women players and good for Wimbledon.”
Wimbledon cited a combination of commercial, political and sporting factors for the decision.
“We think now is absolutely the right time to make this move,” Phillips said. “We have a reputation both for the championships and for the All England Club and we have to look after that.”
The French Tennis Federation will discuss overall pay parity for the French Open at a meeting on March 16.