Whoo boy. Now that the air has cleared a bit, let's attempt to unpack this debate over equal pay on the pro tennis tour. We've got some old-man tennis organizer Raymond Moore talking about women being on their knees, we got Serena Williams saying in essence, "Excuse me?" We also got Novak Djokovic saying that old man is kind of right because a lot of people love watching men's tennis, and we got Serena again reminding him that the women's' U.S. Open final sold out before the tournament started because Serena, and we got Andy Murray holding his newborn daughter and saying to Novak, "C'mon mate ...," then we got Djokovic kind of apologizing. We got Roger Federer saying that we have to consider a tournament's history (??) but yeah, equal pay, yay!
So ... what's the right answer here? I've written about this before, but given the context of how this round of the equal-pay debate started, it's worth restating and expanding. As your average American woman who works a regular job, I'm a bit more concerned about the fact that in this country, women make 79 percent of what men make. In Florida, that number is up to 85 percent -- and that's regardless of men and women handling the same workload on the same job. Now that is nonsense.
With that in mind, it's hard for me to really outraged about this particular debate for the reason I've referenced before. Women don't play best-of-five-set matches. I believe that only Billie Jean King and Venus Williams are the only players I've heard of who are in support of this. Svetlana Kuznetsova, who beat Serena in three tough sets this week in Miami, says it's impossible, that a woman's body can't hold up to five sets. But she's in favor of equal pay because male players can get married, have kids. She can't. That's a interesting argument I hadn't thought about. If you are a woman player and you want to get married and have a child, you need to take a year off -- at least. If you wanted to breastfeed your child, that's a change in lifestyle, basically, that would fly in the face of your training. (Incidentally, this is why those in the equal-pay debate outside of tennis say that women should be paid less, because they take time off to have children.)
Kuznetsova is proposing compensation for making that sacrifice, which I can't agree with. It's a choice she made. Maybe no one laid bare the lifestyle she was going to take on when she was 13, 14 years old. But she knew it by 19, by 20. What she's suggesting is a sort of hazard pay for being a woman, and while that sounds great just because I'm a woman, in principle, it makes me cringe a little bit. I know I don't want to be treated special because I'm a woman. I want to be treated the same.
So I have to stay with my original thoughts from almost a decade ago (whoa, I've been doing this for a decade?!!!?). It's great that the Slams are offering equal pay, as are a lot of the top-tier tournaments. But if women aren't willing to go five sets, then I'm not very passionate about this particular debate. I've got my own equal-pay issues.