Great Britain

Fury as Italian Open champ Djokovic banks £9.20 more than women’s winner Halep as £189k prize money revealed

THE Italian Open has been accused of misogyny after bizarrely awarding men's champion Novak Djokovic £9.20 more than women's winner Simona Halep.

Played in Rome, the tournament has long awarded men bigger pay cheques, despite doing the same job as women at the same event.

In 2019, the Italian Open awarded a total prize fund of around £4.8million for the men's event - compared to just £3.2m for the women.

And while this year the prize pool was largely evened out, eagle-eyed observers including New York Times contributor Ben Rothenberg noted that organisers seemingly still couldn't quite bring themselves to grant the women's event complete parity.

And fans were not happy, with one writing: "People who made a pay gap in cents are misogynists. Period."

Another added: "almost feel like - if they so badly need those 10 euros to feel better about their manhood - hell's bells give it to 'em".

And a third wrote: "Ridiculous. And what a brutal gap in the initial rounds, hurting lower ranked women even more."

Both men and women play best-of-three sets at the tour-level event.

The Italian Open is one of nine Masters 1000 ATP events, one rung below Grand Slams including Wimbledon - while the concurrent WTA event is a Premier 5, below the four Premier Mandatories but still one of the women's tour's nine biggest regular events.

In 2016, the 17-time Grand Slam winner said: "They [the WTA] fought for what they deserve and they got it. On the other hand I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches.

"I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve.

"As long as it’s like that and there is data and stats available upon who attracts more attention, spectators, who sells more tickets and stuff like that, in relation to that it has to be fairly distributed.”

While some of his peers agreed, Andy Murray, a strong advocate for women's sports, rubbished Djokovic's views.

He said at the time: "I think there should be equal pay, 100 per cent, at all combined events.

"One of the things Novak said was that if women are selling more seats and tickets they should make more but at a tournament like [the Miami Open], for example, if Serena is playing on centre court and you have a men’s match with [Sergiy] Stakhovsky playing, people are coming to watch Serena.

"The crowds are coming to watch the women as well. The whole thing just doesn’t stack up – it changes on a day-to day basis depending on the matches you get."

If I have a daughter who plays tennis and also have a son that plays tennis, I wouldn’t say that my son deserves more because he is a man

Serena Williams

And Serena Williams herself also weighed in: "I have been playing since the age of two and it would be shocking to say my son would deserve more than my daughter.

“It is irrelevant. Novak is entitled to his opinion but if he has a daughter – I think he has a son right now – he should talk to her and tell her how his son deserves more money because he is a boy.

“If I have a daughter who plays tennis and also have a son that plays tennis, I wouldn’t say that my son deserves more because he is a man. If they both started at three-years-old I would say they both deserve the same amount of money.”

Djokovic, who was making his return to the tour after being defaulted at the US Open, also gathered controversy for forming a breakaway union during tennis' time of need brought about by Covid-19 - and failing to include the women.

Again Murray objected, revealing that he would not consider joining such a union unless his WTA counterparts were included.

He said: "I’m not totally against a player union, or players’ association, but right now there’s a couple of things: one is I feel like the current management should be given some time to implement their vision.

"Whether that works out or not would potentially influence me in the future as to which way I would go.

“Also, the fact that the women aren’t part of [the plans]. I feel like that would send a significantly much more powerful message, if the WTA were on board as well. That’s not currently the case. If those things changed in the future, it’s something that I would certainly consider.”

Novak Djokovic defaulted from US Open after hitting ball at line judge with stray ball

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