Equal prize money but rooted male bias still a bugbear

LONDON • The prize money may be equal at £2.2 million (S$3.9 million) each for the king and queen of Wimbledon.

But the tennis championships, which opened yesterday, are still serving up sex discrimination on its top two show courts, it has been claimed.

An analysis of matches scheduled on Centre and No. 1 courts during the last two championships demonstrated a gender bias overwhelmingly in favour of male players.

Tennis fan Mark Leyland said the All England Club employed a 4:2 formula - two men's matches and one women's match on each of the two courts - despite complaints.

"None of the other Grand Slam tournaments do this," he said, citing the US and French championships' top court schedules as roughly gender equal.

Leyland analysed the top two show courts' scheduling during the first week of both the 2015 and 2016 Wimbledon championships.

He found the 4:2 formula was adopted on 10 out of the 12 days.

  • 4:2 

    Ratio of men's to women's matches played on the Wimbledon Centre and No. 1 courts for 10 of 12 days the last two years.

Not only that, but in 2015, the top five men's seeds - Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori - plus Rafael Nadal, who was seeded 10th, had every match scheduled on the two show courts in week one.

Indeed, all the top 13 men's seeds appeared, he noted.

By contrast, in 2015, only the top two women - Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova - had all their matches on the show courts.

The top five women appeared on them at least once, but none of the rest of the top 13 women were scheduled.

Williams, as defending champion, complained in 2011 when she and her sister Venus were asked to play on Court Two, saying Nadal and Djokovic were never moved across, despite the sisters together having won more Wimbledons.

The discrimination debate was further fuelled when the then No. 1 seed, Caroline Wozniacki, was relegated to Court Two for her match with Virginia Razzano.

Venus accused Wimbledon officials of discrimination last year when, after two days of rain caused a backlog, she found herself on Court 18.

A Wimbledon spokesman said scheduling and court allocation was a "complex operation and there will inevitably be variations from year to year depending on the way the draw falls".

Placing leading names on the two show courts was "expected by both the paying public and our TV audiences".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2017, with the headline 'Equal prize money but rooted male bias still a bugbear'. Print Edition | Subscribe