Mon dieu, sacre bleu. Gilou, qu’as-tu donc dit là? Gilles what have you said? Oooh la la. The guy with the cherubic face, the innocent looking one has struck a double fault into the women’s game by saying he doesn’t feel women players should get equal prize money. Simon says, now that sounds like a good name for a kid’s game, that the women don’t play five sets so why should they get equal prize money.
There’s a point there. In fact one blogger went further saying he didn’t “want them to play five sets because it was hard enough watching them play two”. Ouch! It’s not that bad, c’mon on. Simon also says he is not in favour of the combined events. Put the four Slams to one side, but he doesn’t like the fact that Rome, as an example, is now combined and said the women’s final there “had 20 people watching”. I know I was massively poo poohed on my Twitter account @crosscourt1 during the French Open when that match with Maria Sharapova and Klara Zakopolova went on and on and on and on. It was terrible. It was not a good advertisement for women’s tennis. I am not saying for one minute that there are no men’s matches that are boring, of course there are but the women’s matches out do them by a country mile. I don’t even mind watching a one-sided match just to admire how good that one player is but heck there are too many women’s matches that drag on. If it came down to like-for-like then I don’t think the women deserve equal prize money. The highest of level women yes probably, but not the others. However, having said that I do not believe what has been given to them should be taken away or even questioned anymore. Martina Navratilova messaged me with this: “There should be no more discussion about equal prize money. Ever. You don't go backwards...” The fact that Gilou is now an elected member of the ATP World Tour Player Council his words are picked up on and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that so many of the men players would have been cheering him on in the locker room: “Voila Gilles” etc.
The President of the Council, one Roger Federer, said: “Is this the first time I've heard this or is this an ongoing subject for years? I mean, I don't know what to tell you. I hope it doesn't become a big issue during Wimbledon. “It's obviously a debate that's out there ever since I guess the slams have made equal prize money. There's nothing you can do anyway about it. It's just a matter of who believes what, and then that is an endless debate. So whatever you believe.” Now if you ask the young American Sloane Stephens what she thinks about Simon’s comments, her response would be cutting because she just doesn’t like him anyway. “He hit me in the chest with a ball when I was 10 and a ball girl for the first time and he didn’t even say sorry and he also tried to kick me off a practice court in Estoril so I don’t like him and I don’t care what he says,” said Sloane during Wimbledon. Ana Ivanovic commented: “We are different physiques (and) I think we earn our money. I mean, I was two and a half hours out there (in my match).” Ah but Ana should the match have really gone that long? That’s another point. Sam Stosur says everyone's going to have their opinion and it’s a debate that will never cease. She’s adamant that “we deserve it” and the questioning of the equal prize money is a “little bit unfair”. She added: “I think people come out and watch us play because they want to watch us play. I think there are a bunch of men's matches that go five that are pretty boring to watch, as well. It's not like a best of five match is better than a best of three. “If it's an hour and a half match, great; if it's a five hour match, great. I don't think the duration means it's better. You want good quality. Not all men's matches are fun to watch either.
Of course there are some women's matches that go pretty short, too. That's where we're at.” Irrespective of the “he said, she said” argument, there is one thing and one thing only in my mind that warrants equal prize money for women and that’s gender equality. That is the argument women’s tennis should always have espoused and forget about the chit chat on “we’re strong too” and “we train just as hard” and “we have super star names”. That doesn’t cut it with the majority as much as women’s tennis believes it does or should. No one can and should have an argument on gender equality, that’s just a normal civil right. Put that on the table and the case is won, hands down. I wonder what Gilou’s other half has to say. Wouldn’t you have wanted to be a fly on the wall at their place when she read his comments?