The continuous struggle of female players for equal pay is a harsh reality in sports that needs to be addressed now.
Following the trail left by World Tennis Champion Billie Jean King, it seems that the battle for gender equality continues in sports. In a recent release, Forbes announced the names of 100 highest-paid athletes. Surprisingly this list features only six players from Tennis out of which two are female viz. Japanese Naomi Osaka at rank 29 and African American Serena Williams at 33rd position.
Although the popular magazine tried to point out at the unequal distribution of wealth that prevails in the sports arena, the same has once again sparked dissatisfaction regarding discrimination based on sex that certainly does exist.
Tennis as a sport is both challenging and fruitful. It got a big thumbs-up for being genuine and truly fair throughout especially when it comes to equal reward and recognition for women players.
Interestingly, Naomi and Serena have higher incomes than those of Nadal and Djokovic. It was also acknowledged by Forbes that Osaka has earned $34 million from advertising brand which remained unachievable for any female player from any sports other than Tennis.
“Everyone thinks that women should be excited when we get crumbs, and I want women to have the cake, the icing, and the cherry too.” – Billie Jean King
The North American tennis star who had been the number one in the world for five consecutive years lit the fire advocating for “equal pay” back in the year 1972. In a conversation, she shared how the words uttered by a fifty-year-old counterpart Bobby Riggs provoked her not just to take up the challenge but to win it too.
Before the game, he candidly said in a television interview, “I like women in the bedroom and in the kitchen. I think the best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant and barefoot. In this way they don’t worry about going out into the world of men, competing and getting the same money and all that. They stay in their place and help their men. Man is king, man is supreme.”
The epic game is popularly known as the “Battle of Sexes” and was viewed by over ninety million people around the world. In the court, King defeated Riggs by 6-4, 6-3, and 6-3 making the fans proud like never before. The victory was huge but not enough to push WTA to announce equal pay for all winners irrespective of their sex.
Later in 1973 King threatened to stay out of the US Open and the United States became the first Grand Slam to wipe off gender inequalities in tennis. Venus Williams continued the legacy and actively contributed to the cause. In 2007 Wimbledon omitted all salary disparities and started to felicitate champions alike.
Billie Jean King is a pioneer in tennis who fought for the rights of female players in the court. Her battle paved the way to the true guiding light of sports that is equality and passion. However, gender discrimination still continues to haunt players but her contribution to the sports fight-back is indeed priceless.