Did you hear what happened to Venus Williams after she won
Wimbledon on Sunday? She was robbed! She had $52,923 ripped right
out of her purse! In broad daylight!
Instead of getting $705,109, which men's winner Goran Ivanisevic
received on Monday, she earned about a new Lexus less. You talk
about a grass ceiling. Not only that, but it also happened to
Jennifer Capriati this year at the French Open. The dinosaurs who
run that tournament gave her $29,306 less than the men's winner,
Leave it to tennis to jack the only group of players anybody
wants to see. You don't believe me? Let's compare, shall we?
In the women's Top 10, you have the riveting Slam Sisters--Venus
and Serena Williams--the tempestuous Martina Hingis, the sports
story of the year in Capriati, the tragic Monica Seles and the
big Teddette bear, Lindsay Davenport, not to mention, at No. 11,
the world's leading cause of whiplash, Anna Kournikova. In the
men's Top 10 you have nine guys you couldn't pick out of a Pinto
full of Domino's delivery men, plus Andre Agassi. Combined, most
of the Top 10 men have the Q rating of a lamp. Seriously, is
Yevgeny Kafelnikov a tennis player or something you cure with
The women play amazing, long, topsy-turvy, edge-of-your-seat
points. The men hit 140-mph aces nobody can see, and then ask for
a towel. Everything is serve and towel, serve and towel. It's
like being at a cocktail party with Boris Yeltsin. In a
third-round Wimbledon match Ivanisevic had 41 aces against Andy
Roddick, who had 20. It is unclear how the rest of the points
were won because the official statistician fell asleep. If men's
tennis is to be saved, somebody had better start decompressing
these guys' balls. Then something has to be done about the
The women we know by first names: Can you believe what Martina
said about Serena? They hate one another, insult one another's
fathers, insult their own fathers, bump each other on
changeovers, wear body-hugging Technicolor dresses designed by
Edward Scissorhands and generally provide more story lines than
six months' worth of All My Children, all of which will come
splattering out later this month in a new book about the women's
tour, Venus Envy.
The men, on the other hand, stand around killing the grass.
Except for Agassi, they all look like the slackers you have to
shoo away from the door of your Starbucks. They are so dull, they
make tennis writers bang their heads against their laptops. From
what we know, there are no books coming out about the men. They
are lucky to make the white pages.
Did you know that the French Open women's final on NBC last month
drew almost twice as many viewers as the men's? Did you know that
Capriati's quarterfinal Wimbledon match last week pulled in 25%
more viewers than Pete Sampras's fourth-rounder the day before?
Did you know that of the 10 most-searched-for athletes on Lycos
during one week leading up to Wimbledon, four were women's tennis
stars: Kournikova (No. 1), Hingis (5), Jelena Dokic (7) and
Serena Williams (8)? None were male tennis players. Did you know
that John McEnroe has said, "Men may eventually have to sue for
Did you know that last year, for the first time in history, more
women's matches were played on the Stadium Court at the U.S. Open
than men's matches? Did you know that this year the U.S. Open,
for the first time, has scheduled a final for prime time, and
it's the women's, not the men's? Did you know that in an MSNBC
survey last year, almost 70% of respondents preferred women's
tennis to men's?
So what if the men play five sets to the women's three? Ishtar is
longer than Casablanca. Which would you rather see? The pooh-bahs
at the Australian Open and U.S. Open figured all this out long
ago and raised their women's prize money to match the men's.
To recap, the women are more popular, make more headlines and
play more entertaining tennis than the men, yet the women made
$790,919 less over the Wimbledon fortnight than the men and
$428,637 less at the French.
Wait, I take it all back. The women should not make as much as
the men--they should make more.
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA
Leave it to tennis to shortchange the only group of players
anybody wants to see.