Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wimbledon finally catches up

What a week! Illinois retires their Indian mascot and Wimbledon has finally agreed to award equal prize money to women players. Now every grand slam has equal prize money for the winners. (The French Open still maintains a disparity in prize money up until the finals, though with the Wimbledon decision many believe the French Open will have to follow suit soon.)
As happy as I am to hear the news, I am a little disappointed that it appears the decision was not really due to any feminist activism. This is in part because there has been little feminist activism around the issue. Venus Williams wrote a good editorial about it last year before the tournament began and every year the media gets a quote or two from a female player who says something along the lines of "yeah, it's not fair; we should be paid the same as the men." No one takes it any further or even discusses the possibility of taking it any further.
Gone are the days of Billie Jean King organized boycotts.
It appears that Wimbledon finally caved because the British Olympic Committee was worried about the embarrassment of having Wimbledon be the tennis venue for the 2012 Olympics and still be perpetuating gender inequality.
But the All-England Club chairman is describing it a natural progression that began with BJK in the late 1960s. But very few seem to be buying that given that a vote taken on this issue last year was no where near approving equal prize money.
In the end, even though the pressure was not from the collective power of the women's tour members, I am glad the right decision was made.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I believe that Venus made a difference in piling on the shame, but that the IOC issue made it happen perhaps sooner than it would have. The women on the tour should all be writing editorials like Venus did, but it isn't going to happen. Perhaps all the fuss over BJK last year will help some of them realize whose shoulders they're standing on. Unless they're all like Jennifer Capriati.