Ultimately, whether women’s players are deserving of the same play as men is dependent on what the market wants to pay them.
At this point, the market believes that women’s players should get the same. And that is the way it is. On that argument, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are correct and Gilles Simon is not.
At the same time, I’ve always believed that the women should have to play the same number of sets as the men. At the major tournaments, a man must win the best 3 of 5 sets in his matches, whereas a woman must win 2 of 3 sets. I say make the women play 3 of 5. That would make things more competitive and push women players to higher levels of fitness.
I’ve always had a gripe with the way “equality” has been implemented. For example: in the military, women are not held to the same physical standards as men. They don’t have to do the same number of pushups or situps. They don’t have to run 2 miles at the same pace as the men. Even for Airborne training, women can opt for the flexed armhang whereas the men must perform nine or more pullups.
(Even in the civilian world, women complain of “pay inequity” when in fact they miss more time from work than men do and are not known to be as aggressive at negotiating compensation as men are. I’m not dissing anyone, it just is what it is.)
If you want “gender equality”, then fine: make both sexes perform at the same level, across the board. That means the military must make the women do whatever the men have to do, with the same quantitative measurements. That means sports–such as tennis–should require women to play the same number of sets as the men. That means women golfers should tee off from the same place as the men. That also means that, in the office environment, women get the same benefits–and no more–as the men, and are held to the same productivity requirements.
I remember in the 1980s, when Martina Navratilova was destroying her opposition, some folks wondered aloud how well she would fare against the men.
John McEnroe received no small amount of flak for asserting that Martina wouldn’t stand a chance against the 100th-ranked men’s player.
And you know what? He was right.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’ve always been a fan of women’s tennis. While I have plenty of issues with Martina’s personal views, I’ve always admired her work ethic and her skill. She went from the chubby “Great Wide Hope” to one of the fittest women in the history of sports. When she caught her stride, she literally OWNED Chris Evert and everyone else on the women’s circuit.
But let’s be honest here: put her on the same court with McEnroe–then or now–and it wouldn’t even be a fair fight.
Still, as far as compensation goes, if the market is willing to pay the women the same as the men, then it’s fair.