The Tennis clay court season is almost upon us, so a good time perhaps to revisit one peccadillo and often debated issue, that of prize money, specifically the correct amount that should be awarded to both men and women within the higher echelons of the game.

With equal prize money in Grand Slam tournaments awarded to both genders, despite the clear disparities between them, it is starting to become an elephant in the room, with men the biggest losers in this arrangement, and who may have due cause to feel slightly aggrieved.

In the French Open this year the winner will receive €1.80 million, but despite good intentions equal prize money is hard to justify on closer scrutiny when you consider what’s involved. Most obviously, men play the best-of -5-set matches, whereas for women it is the best-of -3. For the eventual male Tennis champion, he may well have played a succession of these 5 set matches on route to the final with the way the men’s game has become, with ever fitter and able challengers all vying for the top spot, and the prestige, accolades and money that comes with it. This could equate to many more hours for male Tennis players in the duration of a Grand Slam tournament.

In contrast, in the women’s game it is not uncommon for a match to be wound up in under an hour if it is particularly one-sided. The longest match in a Grand Slam for women lasted 4 hours, 44 minutes, at the Australian Open in 2011 between Francesca Shiavon and Svetlana Kuznetsova, a statistic that was procured from a very short list.

John Isner and Nicholas Mahut’s first-round Wimbledon match in 2010 ran on for 11 hours and 5 minutes, the longest on record.

The Australian Open Final in 2012, a match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was a 5 set match, a frequent occurrence between these two, and lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes.

For the shortest match in the men’s game you have to go as far back as 1881, which was between William Renshaw and John Hartley and lasted 36 minutes.

In our working lives if it came to our attention that a co-worker was earning the same salary despite working far fewer hours, regardless of gender, and on confronting a manger only to be told, “We’re all the same here, now just get on with it”, would likely cause us to feel outraged.

Is this really equality or is appeasement? It should be about what is just and fair, yet in today’s current climate it has become almost blasphemous to suggest otherwise in this case.

It is perhaps reminiscent of the ideas conceived by left-wing councils in the UK, who in their wisdom thought it politically correct that schools awarded a prize to all pupils on sports day because of the long-term negative effects it might have on little Tommy or Alice. This has since been overturned by Prime Minister David Cameron, reintroducing competition in all primary schools in 2012.

Who’s to say that women Tennis players would not be able to play the best of 5 matches like their male counterparts, given the phenomenal fitness levels of these athletes today, and may ultimately be the only way to settle this long-running debate.

What may be needed is a common sense approach with prize money more conducive to actual time spent on the court, that way we can hopefully arrive at something even slightly resembling true gender equality.

Author's Bio: 

Christopher is based in the UK and is the author and founder of Critical Eye, a website dedicated to debating societal issues, international affairs and other features. You can view more articles like this by visiting