Maria, Serena react to Simon's pay comments
Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams react to Gilles Simon's opposition to equal prize money among men and women players.
"We women have fought so long to get equal prize money," Sharapova said. "It was a big challenge and nobody really supported us. It's been a few years since we've gotten that. We're all really proud of it, and we continue to build the sport and make it bigger. I'm sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than his."
Serena got a laugh out of Sharapova's last comment, saying: "Definitely a lot more people are watching Maria than Simon. She's way hotter than he is," Serena said with laugh. "Women's tennis I think is really awesome. It's a great fight. We fought for years with Billie Jean King, and Venus as well, really set the pattern on what we should do. I started playing tennis at two years old. I'm sure he started when he was two 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. We are all very professional and all work hard. With that being said, everybody is entitled to his opinion."
Simon tired to clarify his comments, saying his argument is largely economic, as more fans are interested in men's tennis than women’s, and that ticket prices are higher for the men because the demand is higher.
"My point of view was just about the entertainment," he said. "If you just watch how it is working in every other sport, but even for the singers, you're just paid by the public directly. My point was that I have the feeling that men's tennis is actually more interesting than women's tennis. As in any business or anything, you just have to be paid just about that. It's not because we play five sets and they are playing three ... 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. Just check the price of the ticket from the men's final and the woman's final. It's not about me anymore, it's about the tennis. That's the way it works in life."
Simon added that he does support equal rights for women, but said that shouldn't apply when it comes to determining pay scales in tennis. He also said that most male players agree with him, but are afraid to come out and say it publicly.
"It just doesn't work in entertainment, because entertainment is not about being a man or woman, he said. "It's just about public coming to watch you or not. It's not about how hard you work. You can work hard and be a very famous singer. You can work hard and just sing in your bathroom. It's maybe sad, but this is the way it works. It has nothing to do with men and women. In life in general, of course, I'm for [equal pay]. Tomorrow if women's tennis is more interesting than men's tennis, if the price of the woman's final is higher than the price of the men's final, they will deserve to win more money than us. That's just the way it works. Just feel like it's fair. Just to say it has to be equal because there is a struggle in life in general, I'm not sure it's a very good argument."
Andy Murray said that many men do back Simon on some issues. "There's a lot of things the guys do agree on. For example, like at the French Open, Sara Errani, who made the final in singles and won the doubles, because it's not best-of-five sets for the women, it's much easier to play singles and doubles, so therefore more chance to make money that way, because there's very few of the singles guys that have a chance or a realistic shot of winning the event will be playing doubles here. Same thing [at Wimbledon]. It's five-set singles, five-set doubles, so even less guys are going to play. There's things that we will agree on. It's not always just about equal pay, it's about the way the men's and women's tournaments differ."