French Open could go for equal prize money

26th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

DUBAI, Feb 24, 2007 (AFP) - The French Open could still emulate Wimbledon by agreeing to equal prize money for women this year - even though there are only three months to go before the start of the clay court Grand Slam at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris.

DUBAI, Feb 24, 2007 (AFP) -  The French Open could still emulate Wimbledon by agreeing to equal prize money for women this year - even though there are only three months to go before the start of the clay court Grand Slam at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris.

That's the opininon of Larry Scott, chief executive of the Women's Tennis Association, who called it "historic" when the British grass court Grand Slam announced equal prize money on Thursday.

The French Open is now the only Grand Slam not to have equal prize money, and the WTA will be meeting with Christian Bimes, president of the French Federation, before the FFT makes its decision about this issue on March 16.

Representing the WTA will be its president Stacey Allister, and Scott believes it may be possible to nudge Bimes to make the leap to equal prizes this year rather than next.  

"They are now standing alone," Scott emphasized, "and I hope they pick up on the momentum Wimbledon has created and put this issue behind us once and for all."

Asked if he was optimistic about this, Scott replied: "I'm hopeful. I don't see why it couldn't be this year. I give Christian Bimes credit for being willing to have an open dialogue about it.

"We have been keeping stats on match length and keeping track of commercial metrics such as earnings of players off court and TV ratings, and there is fresh data which show whatever gaps may have existed, real or imagined, (between men and women) we are filling them.

"We have a meeting where Stacey Allister will meet with Christian and his team, so I give him a lot of credit for being open minded about it.

"I know even before Wimbledon's decision they had it on their agenda, so I am hoping the decision Wimbledon is taking will encourage the last remaining Grand Slam to get there as well."

Scott described Wimbledon's decision as good not just for tennis but for sport as a whole. He added that it was "symbolic" that he should be coming to Dubai because this tournament played a leading role in prize money, making it equal two years ago.

What changed Wimbledon's minds, when the tournament hsa clearly been able to give equal prize money for a long time?

"Sony Ericsson, our tour sponsor came on board and the whole commercial side of women's tennis has developed," Scott answered.

"The competition has never been better. And I think the public debate and discussion reached a new level with (British) government officials comin in.

"With the Olympics coming to SW19, the importance of equality for the Olympic movement was another factor."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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