The Inspiring Story of How Venus Williams Helped Win Equal Pay for Females at Wimbledon

Until 2007, women champions at Wimbledon won a smaller cash prize than the male champions. However with determination and constant advocacy from Venus Williams, she has fought and help win the prolonged battle for female athletes everywhere.

Their names are synonymous with speed, power and a humble approach to stardom: Venus and Serena Williams. The sisters have always spurred each other to the heights of success with a combination of fierce competitiveness and mutual encouragement. Known as two of the most competitive and fiery players in the tournament, it’s their work off the court that makes them stand out from the rest.

Yet, what sets Venus Williams apart from Serena is her persistent advocacy for women — specifically, on the issue of equal prize money for equal merit, a still-contentious topic in many sports.

According to ESPN, Williams made her first public mention of the need for Grand Slam events to award equal prize money to men and women back in 1998, after a first round win at Wimbledon. At the time, the US Open was the only Grand Slam tournament that awarded equal prize money, thanks to the courageous efforts of Billie Jean King.

In 2o06, the CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Larry Scott, asked Venus Williams if she would be willing to play a central role in aggressively pursuing equal pay, a mission she embraced. In an op-ed published in the London Times, Williams argued that:

“[Wimbledon’s prize structure] devalues the principle of meritocracy and diminishes the years of hard work that women on the tour have put into becoming professional tennis players. The message I like to convey to women and girls across the globe is that there is no glass ceiling. My fear is that Wimbledon is loudly and clearly sending the opposite message.”

Her piece generated enough attention from British politicians that it was brought up during a question-and-answer session in Parliament, prompting Prime Minister Tony Blair to endorse equal pay in his response.

Finally, in 2007 William’s efforts paid off. A statement from Tim Phillips, chairman of the All England Club read,“This year, taking into account both the overall progression and the fact that broader social factors are also relevant to the decision, they [the Committee] have decided that the time is right to bring this subject to a logical conclusion and eliminate the difference.”

Venus then responded with her own statement after hearing the incredible news:

“The greatest tennis tournament in the world has reached an even greater height today. I applaud today’s decision by Wimbledon, which recognizes the value of women’s tennis.”

This victory that Venus Williams won off the court helped achieve an enduring victory for women players at the iconic tournament, as well as, by extension, for all women in the fight for equal pay.

WATCH: Director Ava DuVerny talking about her film of the film Venus VS. (2013) – 

Diahann x

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How The Matilda’s Pay Dispute Could Spark Real Change

Just as female tennis stars fought the gender pay gap in the 1970s, so too can the Matildas pay dispute and strike effect real change in soccer in Australia.

This is definitely an opportunity to grasp and make the most of if done correctly. They have the ability and capabilities to promote a real change and spark interest in the long debated manner. Hopefully the Matildas strike is not in vain and can effect real, systematic and fundamental change to the inequalities they face when it comes to their salary.

The Matildas, Australia’s national women’s soccer team, have gone on strike and it has been a long time coming.

In June, as interest grew around their success in the FIFA World Cup, reports began to circulate revealing just how little the players were being paid in comparison to their male counterparts, the Socceroos.

In the lead up to their incredible knockout game with Brazil, the ABC reported that each Matilda had received$500 in match fees, while male players received $7500 for doing the same thing! Furthermore, while soccer’s top sportswomen received approximately $21,000 per annum, its sportsmen could make the same amount from a handful of group-stage tournament games. These statistics are beyond depressing in which serious action needs to be taken.

The Matildas’ contracts with Football Federation Australia expired at the end of June, however the bargaining process for replacement contracts has been going on for more than 6 months, which essentially means that the player have not been payed for 2 months which has understandably left the players feeling hurt and disrespected which ultimately saw them withdraw from their training camp.

Matildas forward Ashley Sykes said in a statement that “Everyone wants to play, everyone wants to represent their country. But we’re not going to do that until we get some progress.”

If enough light is shed on this issue, and the media portray it a case that needs serious readjustment, then fundamental change to the system is a likely probability. The actions of women in tennis in 1970 were instrumental in securing the high profile and competitive nature of professional women’s tennis that we see today. Ultimately, the actions of the Matildas are similarly important: their success will pave the way for future generations of sportswomen, for the success and popularity of the women’s soccer, for equal pay campaigns across industries, and we should support them in their fight.

 

Check out the highlights from our winning match against the mighty Brazil! Inspiring stuff!

Diahann x

Bridging the Gender Pay Gap in Professional Sports

The success of the U.S. Women’s National Team in the Women’s World Cup has re-invigorated the debate over the gender pay gap in sports. The champions pulled in just $2 million in prize money — compared with the $35 million Germany earned for winning the men’s tournament last year. Every one of the 32 men’s teams earned at least $8 million in 2014 just for participating. Now there is a statistic that needs to be drastically altered.

Pay disparity isn’t anything new in women’s sports, and certainly not in women’s soccer. It’s a global issue that has continued for far too long!

It’s one thing to go after pay gaps in regular-season salaries among different leagues, but the disparity in World Cup payouts is especially stark, with the prize money in both tournaments determined by a single body: FIFA. For the men’s World Cup, FIFA awarded a total of $576 million to 32 teams, while giving just $15 million to 24 squads in the women’s World Cup. Ultimately, the

Indeed, the message FIFA seems to be sending is that it values its worst men’s players at least four times more than its best women. This is completely unjust and unacceptable by today’s standards.

An American senator by the name of Patrick Leahy, has introduced a resolution calling for FIFA to pay men and women equally and “to treat all athletes with the respect and dignity those athletes deserve.” He has also called upon other organisations at both national and international level to do the same.

Although it seems an admirable goal, it does not seem the type of advocacy that will bring about instant results and change. Although, with that being said, he does promote a good point, demonstrating that there is a model for how the pay gap may be closed in sports. Since 2007, all four Grand Slam tennis tournaments have awarded equal prize money to the men and the women, with the U.S Open having had pay equality since 1973, thanks to Billie Jean King and her work with the Women’s Tennis Association, which she herself founded. Furthermore, it hasn’t altered the overall payouts; both singles champions in this year’s US Open made a record $3.3 million, which is a 10% increase from last year’s tournament.

However ultimately, there is no convincing some people who automatically assume female athletes to be inferior that they deserve to be rewarded on par with the men.

But if sports organizations such as FIFA did a better job at promoting its women’s teams, there would be more money to go around to everyone for everyone, EQUALLY. Equal prize money is a good place to start, and also the idea that the acknowledgment that the sport values is not women nor men, but champions.

Diahann x

Matilda’s Pay Dispute

Matildas training

Australia’s women’s national football team has called off its entire tour of the United States as the pay dispute with Football Federation Australia (FFA) continues to escalate.

Last week, the Matildas confirmed their withdrawal from a Sydney training camp ahead of the planned tour, and have now upped the ante in attempts to call off their tour of the world champions. This drastic advocacy by the Matildas themselves just goes to show how important and serious this issue really is this issue is.

The Matildas thrilled Australian audiences earlier this year, when they reached the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup, becoming the first Australian representative team to reach the last eight in a football world cup. And rightfully so do they deserve to be paid a fair and just amount if that fact is anything to go by.

However it has been two months since the Matildas were payed after the players’ contracts expired and negotiations stalled because of their dispute.

Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) chief executive Adam Vivian said in a statement that “The Matildas are in a very interesting situation, they fundamentally have a full-time workload with part time pay, so we’re looking for an immediate correction to their pay scheme – that’s not a huge correction by the way, that correction sort of circa $150,000 in total in terms of the addition of what’s been offered,” he said.

Vivian said that at $21,000 a year for each player, there is no question the Matildas are underpaid. This statistic is beyond shocking especially when you compare it to the incredible salaries of their male counterparts.

Vivian does agree that it’s time for a more justifiable and substantial deal to be struck and says that the federation wouldn’t have worked so hard if they wanted to get an agreement that would better reflect the amazing standard of our women’s team.

It is good to see the players taking a stand because they are not being remunerated respectively, so ultimately it’ s not a game for them, when it comes to serious financial issues, its their livelihood that’s at stake.

Diahann x