Wimbledon has increased the purse by 9.2 percent for 2019, per the tournament’s press release. The men and women are paid the same and this year’s total purse amounts to about $17.9 million on each side for a total of $35.8 million awarded in both singles brackets. The winner of the singles tournament for both the men and women earns a check for $2.95 million, while the runner-up takes home $1.4 million.
According to ESPN, Wimbledon instituted equal pay in 2007 with there being about a five percent difference prior to the decision. Venus Williams played a critical role in the equal pay reform at Wimbledon, including speaking to the Grand Slam Board.
“I said: ‘All of our hearts beat the same. When your eyes are closed, you really can’t tell, next to you, who’s a man and who’s a woman.’ And (I asked them) to think about their daughters and their wives and sisters. How would they like them to be treated?” Williams explained to USA Today. “Sometimes, we lose track of, and don’t even realize, our own bias and our own prejudice. And we have to confront ourselves.”
Billie Jean King Noted That Venus & Serena Williams “Transcend Sports”
Tennis legend Billie Jean King started the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative to help fight for issues such as equal pay. King discussed how the Williams sisters have been advocates for the cause throughout their careers.
“Venus, in particular, helped us get equal prize money in the majors,” King told USA Today. “She was amazing. She really got Wimbledon to make the big step. Venus has always had the courage to step up. And Serena’s the same way. They step up. I mean, Serena is not afraid to say whatever is on her mind…They’ve been through a lot themselves, so they totally understand what’s going on. The two of them have transcended sports. The BJKLI is not about sports. It’s about every industry. To try to get equal pay for equal work, and that means across the board, from CEOs down to entry-level.”
Why Do Tennis Players Wear White at Wimbledon?
Aside from being one of the most prestigious tournaments in sports, Wimbledon also has a lot of history including players’ signature white attire. The answer to why players wear white may surprise you. The tradition dates back to the 1880s as organizers were worried about sweat stains, per Britannica.
The short answer is “because it’s in the dress code.” But it’s in the dress code for a reason: namely, when the code was written in the genteel 1880s, sweat stains were considered so improper and unsightly that it was decided that white should be worn to minimize their visibility, as sweat is more apparent on colorful clothing. From that period on, “tennis whites” were considered the standard attire for well-heeled tennis players, which described everyone who played in the first Wimbledon tournaments. Once that rule was prescribed in the dress code, the tradition-loving Wimbledon was loath to remove it.
The tournament is big on tradition and continues to enforce the rule. For the amount of prize money on the line at the All England Club, players are likely willing to comply with whatever the dress code may be.