(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) IS TENNIS a woman's game? Apparently French tennis player Gilles Simon thinks not. And he's not ashamed to admit it openly. The 27-year-old sportsman created an uproar amongst his peers with his allegedly sexist comments.
On Tuesday, Gilles asserted that male tennis players should actually get paid more than their female counterparts - rather than the current norm of an equal remuneration- for Grand Slams, because their game is more popular. To add fuel to fire, he said that men spend twice as much time on court than women and offer a 'more attractive' game to the audience. What ensued was a verbal backlash by female tennis veterans Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Sharapova hit back saying that women deserved every penny they get for a game, while Williams derided Simon by saying that a lot more people watch Sharapova play because 'she's more attractive than him'.
Let's leave all the accusations of chauvinism aside and objectively analyse Simon's words. His argument is overtly based on the simple principles of demand and input- since men's game is more popular and they work harder, they should get paid more. But his rationale is shoddy at best. A Rafael Nadal or a Roger Federer match surely draws sports fanatics from all over the world. But it's certainly not like people flip the TV channel when World No. 1 Sharapova - an iconic sportswoman for the past seven years- is playing. In fact, all eyes are excitedly fixed on sports celebrities like Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic as they face their opponents with confidence and grace.
While it's true that men spend more time on the ground - the first player to win three sets in a men's game is declared the winner, as opposed to winning only two in a women's game. This rule acknowledges a natural physical difference between the strength and endurance between men and women. But it should certainly not be taken to imply a woman's disadvantage in putting up a more popular and effective performance on the field. In fact, Simon's logic is used by many employers who pay women less than men because they think that their child-bearing and other familial responsibilities will be an impediment in their performance. But just because women can't put in late hours at the work place because of they have to give time to their children, doesn't make them less effective workers.
Participation in sports is actually a big achievement for women. It has shows that physical activity and strength is not the exclusive domain of men; women, too, can hit an ace, and receive a hearty applause for it. They have fought long and hard for equal pay and equal respect on the court, and for a male colleague to demean their effort is certainly disappointing for them and sports fans around the world.