ByGoIf Chudabala, writer at Creators.co

Tennis is a sport enjoyed by millions across the globe. However, like other sports, there are still controversial issues such as discrimination and inequality that still need to be overcome. In order to truly enjoy any sport, it should be fair and equal towards everyone and not benefit one side more than another.

Let’s say a man and a woman enter a tennis tournament and they both win their sides respectively. The woman gets paid $157,800 less for her efforts even if she won the same exact tournament as the man. This is unfair right? This disparity in pay in a pro sport like tennis raises alarm to fairness and brings to light the reality of this gender pay gap. This is evident in every single tournament in tennis—including tennis’ biggest tournament, the Grand Slam where “men consistently outearn women” (Tennis’ Gender Pay Gap Problem Looms on the Sidelines). Despite a gender pay gap in professional tennis, most fans are unaware that women are facing discrimination in sports which is a problem.

Collin Flake, author of “Advantage men: The sex pay gap in professional tennis,” told Forbes that the sex pay gap in professional tennis is overlooked because discrimination can be hidden or distorted. Basically, if a headline of a respected news source says that “Wimbledon Announces End to Gender Pay Gap,” people will assume that gender pay gap is no longer an issue and has been fixed. Also, even though the prize money is equal in large prestigious tournaments like the Slams, in less publicized tournaments women earn considerably lower than men. It was found that during the 2009 professional tennis season, the average female pro earned 23.4% logged dollars (average pay pro athletes usually make) less than male pros.

People have tried to defend the gender pay gap, arguing that men play best-of-five sets in the Slams and women play best-of-three sets. This is irrelevant because both men and women professionals play the same amount of sets outside the major tournaments. Defenders of the pay gap also claimed that fans pay more to watch men play rather than women so they should be paid more. This isn’t a great claim either because in large tournaments, fans pay to watch both men’s and women’s matches. Other factors also contribute to how many fans pay to which tournament like the location, regional wealth, prize money, tournament status, and rich ownership. Making excuses and trying to defend a policy that spurs discrimination helps fuel gender inequality in sports. They are missing the bigger picture: “the reasons such a gap exists in the first place” (Tennis’ Gender Pay Gap Problem Looms on the Sidelines).

Karen Farquharson, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, at Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology says this gap proves that society is male-dominated and patriarchal, especially in sports. Generally, people say that men’s tennis or men’s sports in general are more entertaining because the athletes are much more stronger. However, Karen argues that even though women aren’t as strong as men, it doesn’t make the women’s sport less entertaining and less competitive. In fact, the women’s tour for tennis has been less predictable than the men’s tennis tour and arguably more exciting because there’s no chokehold at the top. Since 2006, only “six men have won 33 Slams, and four of them have hogged 31 to themselves,” while 14 different women claimed Slam trophies apart from Serena Williams whose at a different level. There is not enough chance given for women to prove themselves worthy and be a top contender because “of a strong media bias that favors men’s sports” (Tennis’ Gender Pay Gap Problem Looms on the Sidelines).

Media bias towards men’s sports also helps contribute towards the gender pay gap that women face in sports. Broadcasters believe that people aren’t interested in seeing women’s sports so they don’t televise it as much. Female athletes who are "world-class" might not get recognition or prestige because no one knows who she is due to a lack of media exposure. For example, “SportsCenter devoted only 1.4% of its airtime to cover women’s sports in 2009” which was a decrease from 2004’s 2.1%. This puts women at a disadvantage because if a woman professional doesn’t win a tournament or qualify to at least earn some money, it will be hard for them to find sponsorships or get better pay. Even with the gender pay gap that women in sports face—particularly tennis—“tennis remains one of the most popular pro sports for women” because it pays well. However, even though women get paid higher in tennis than in other sports, it should not be viewed as a positive. Women should fight for equal pay in sports (including winning the same tournament as a man) to level the playing field in sports, provide transparency, and create a new path towards a more unified America.

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