News / Opinion / Columns

Jon Swift
2 minute read
30 Jun 2018
8:15 am

McEnroe aces Martina in Wimbledon pay only

Jon Swift

In an era when pay parity between the sexes has become the norm in Grand Slam tennis, it seems hard to believe.

Martina Navratilova, pictured during the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London, on July 6, 2013.

It is impossible to argue that The All England Championship, the tournament the world knows as Wimbledon, is not special from the rest of the Majors.

The courts are seeped in tradition, traditions like consuming expensive strawberries and cream or quaffing an equally expensive Pimms Cup or glass of champagne. And of course, it is played on grass.

Martina Navratalova won £207 000 in 1990, the last of her record nine Wimbledon singles championships. The men’s singles champion, Sweden’s Stephan Edburg, won £230 000.

In total, Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Major women’s doubles titles (a record), and 10 Major mixed doubles titles, combined marking the open-era record for the most number of Grand Slam titles won by one player, male or female. She reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, including for nine consecutive years from 1982 through 1990, and won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon a record nine times (surpassing Helen Wills Moody’s eight Wimbledon titles).

McEnroe took home £100 000 for the third of his Wimbledon singles titles in 1984 – plus £40 000 for adding the men’s doubles title with Peter Fleming.

In this year’s championship, both male and female champions will bank £2 250 000. Call it hyperinflation if you will, but it is more than interesting to compare McEnroe’s broadcasting contract for Wimbledon 2017 with what the BBC paid Navratilova. The brash American was paid £150 000 – more than his payout as a double champion.

Navratilova in contrast was signed for just £15 000, though the British broadcaster, in an interview published in London, insisted the roles of McEnroe and Navratilova were “simply not comparable” and insisted that gender was not a factor.

McEnroe said he had not discussed the matter with Navratilova. “We’re not in the same place that often and it doesn’t come up,” he said, insisting the pay debate was “not a black and white issue”. He explained: “I don’t think it’s simply like people receiving the same pay. You’re not going out and playing Wimbledon or the US Open. This is a totally different animal. We can agree on that, right?”

In an era when pay parity between the sexes has become the norm in Grand Slam tennis, it seems hard to believe that McEnroe truly believes that.

Jon Swift.

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