Study on grand slam tennis prize money shows male players are underpaid

Novak Djokovic earned less income than womens champion Angelique Kerber during the Australian Open. Photo / Getty Images
Novak Djokovic earned less income than womens champion Angelique Kerber during the Australian Open. Photo / Getty Images

In the real world - and almost every corner of the sporting world - women get dudded on the pay front.

But the roles are reversed at the tennis grand slams.

As the equal prize money debate continues to rage ahead of the French Open starting on Sunday, AAP has unearthed statistics from the Australian Open that show men's champion Novak Djokovic earned $116,000 an hour less than women's winner Angelique Kerber.

And despite his status as a 14-times grand slam champion and global drawcard, Rafael Nadal was the third-lowest earner per hour of the 256 singles competitors at Melbourne Park.

The argument that men should be paid more because they play best-of-five sets compared to women's best-of-three-set matches - and therefore for longer - is nothing new.

But crunching the numbers to determine what every singles player pocketed per hour at the Open in January has uncovered much more than Djokovic entertaining fans for six hours longer than Kerber but receiving the same-sized winner's cheque.

Djokovic sparked a sexism storm in March when he argued ATP Tour players deserve to be paid more than they currently are because male players attract higher audiences on television and at live events.

"We all have to fight for what we deserve," he said following a rebuke from Serena Williams.

"This was never meant to be made into a fight between genders and differences in pay, but in the way all players are rewarded for their play and effort."

In total, singles participants shared a record $32.467 million in Melbourne where, like the other three annual slams and several mandatory premier events, the men and women receive equal prize money.

The men spent a collective 633.83 hours on court and earned an average of $25,619 per hour each.

The women's total court time amounted to 401.54 hours, individually receiving an average of $40,439 an hour - a 63 per cent higher hourly pay rate than the men.

While 47 of the lowest 50 singles earners per hour at the Open were men, women boasted 38 of the top 50 earners per hour, including 14 of the top 20.

Caroline Wozniacki was the lowest women's singles earner per hour, but the Dane was still better off than 22 men following her marathon first-round loss.

Why is all this relevant?

Because even WTA boss Steve Simon, though disappointed that equal prize money remains such a hot topic of conversation, this week admitted "this is a business" and the bottom line is the ATP is attracting greater TV and broadcast revenues.

Put simply, a record 720,363 fans flocked to this year's Australian Open and, in addition to the millions of dollars generated through TV and broadcast deals, those bums on seats bought more pies, beers and merchandise and made the tournament more money while staying longer to watch the men in action.

With most people - in all walks of life - paid by the hour, just about everyone working at Melbourne Park, from the cleaners upwards, earned more doing overtime during the Open - except the men providing the added entertainment.

Yet almost 94 per cent of the women earned more per hour than half of the entire 128-strong men's field.

Alison Van Uytvanck didn't win a solitary game in a 53-minute first-round loss to Victoria Azarenka yet still featured in the top-10 earners for the tournament on an hourly basis.

Van Uytvanck's virtual $39,205 an hour was five times more than Nadal's $7372 an hour he received after an epic first-round battle with fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

The highest-earning men's third-round loser by the hour, American Steve Johnson, received less on an hour than precisely 75 per cent of women's first-round losers.

In total, 32 first-round women's losers featured in the top 56 earners overall on an hourly basis.

Bojana Jovanovski made the briefest appearance at the Open, but still raked in the equivalent of $43,125 an hour for her 48-minute first-round thrashing at the hands of Alize Cornet.

HOW THE NUMBERS STACK UP

Women's champion Angelique Kerber earned $116,000 an hour more than men's winner Novak Djokovic - The men spent a collective 633.83 hours on court and earned an average of $25,619 per hour each.

- The women's total court time amounted to 401.54 hours, individually receiving an average of $40,439 an hour - a 63 per cent higher hourly pay rate than the men.

- While 47 of the lowest 50 singles earners per hour at the Open were men, women boasted 38 of the top 50 earners per hour, including 14 of the top 20.

- Former world No. 1 and 14-times grand slam champion Rafael Nadal was the third-lowest earner per hour of the 256 singles competitors at Melbourne Park.

- Caroline Wozniacki was the lowest women's singles earner per hour, but the Dane was still better off than 22 men following her marathon first-round loss.

- Almost 94 per cent of the women earned more per hour than half of the entire 128-strong men's field.

- Alison Van Uytvanck didn't win a game in a 53-minute first-round loss to Victoria Azarenka yet still featured in the top-10 earners for the tournament on an hourly basis.

TOP 10 PRIZE MONEY EARNERS BY THE HOUR AT THE 2016 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

1. Angelique Kerber - $332,757 - women's champion

2. Novak Djokovic - $216,535 - men's champion

3. Serena Williams - $208,105 - women's runner-up

4. Andy Murray - $99,842 - men's runner-up

5. Agnieszka Radwanska - $89,385 - women's semi-finalist

6. Johanna Konta - $83,594 - women's semi-finalist

7. Roger Federer - $69,747 - men's semi-finalist

8. Victoria Azarenka - $66,115 - women's quarter-finalist

9. Zhang Shuai - $57,720 - women's quarter-finalist

10. Milos Raonic - $49,443 - men's semi-finalist

LOWEST 10 PRIZE MONEY EARNERS BY THE HOUR AT THE 2016 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

1. Malek Jaziri - $7,218 - men's 1st rd loser

2. Ernests Gulbis - $7,309 - men's 1st rd loser

3. Rafael Nadal - $7,371 - men's 1st rd loser

4. Renzo Olivo - $7,662 - men's 2nd rd loser

5. Gilles Muller - $7,712 - men's 2nd rd loser

6. Tommy Robredo - $7,792 - men's 2nd rd loser

7. Guido Pella - $7,874 - men's 2nd rd loser

8. Fernando Verdasco - unknown - men's 2nd rd loser

9. Fabio Fognini - $8,668 - men's 1st rd loser

10. Jeremy Chardy - $8,759 - men's 2nd rd loser

- news.com.au

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