Equal pay for men’s and women’s tennis? Miami Open fans weigh in

Serena Williams talks equal pay, Novak Djokovic at Miami Open

Serena Williams talks about Novak Djokovic's remarks concerning women tennis players' lack of salary parity versus men's.
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Serena Williams talks about Novak Djokovic's remarks concerning women tennis players' lack of salary parity versus men's.

Tennis lovers at the Miami Open have spoken.

Well, that is, 10 of them.

“Equal pay for equal work!’’ said Lis Zinn, 81, of St. Petersburg. “Women work just as hard on a tennis court as men do.’’

The Miami Herald canvassed the grounds of Crandon Park Tennis Center on Wednesday to ask tournament goers — many of them waiting to get into the tournament entrance — what they thought of men’s World No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s comments Sunday on male tennis players deserving more prize money than women.

“Men attract more attention,’’ he said after winning at Indian Wells. “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.’’

Djokovic backtracked Tuesday night when he went on Facebook to say the “euphoria and adrenalin after the win on Sunday got the best of me and I’ve made some comments that are not the best articulation of my view… As you all know, I care deeply about the future of the game all of the players. … I felt the need to speak about the fairer and better distribution of funds across the board – this was meant for both men and women.’’

The Miami Open pays equal prize money.

On Wednesday, the 81-year-old Zinn was accompanied by 80-year-old Betty Wilder. They call themselves the Racquettes and they play tennis regularly.

“These women have to do just as much work to get where they are,’’ Wilder said of the Miami Open female entrants.

“Ridiculous!” Zinn added.

Steve Dornseif, 67, of Fort Collins, Colorado, said Djokovic “has already apologized, as well he should.”

Dallas Ryche, 30, an artist from North Miami, and buddy Luis Camino, 36, a private banker from South Miami, said they believe men should be paid more.

“Men are stronger,’’ Ryche said.

“When it comes to money issues, from a business perspective,’’ Camino added, “men should get paid more than women. Especially in tennis, the men’s game is more exciting and more intense and more competitive.’’

Kikumi Gugel, 47, a pharmacist visiting from Gainesville, adamantly disagreed.

“It’s disappointing,’’ Gugel said. “There shouldn’t be any difference. Women have great players, too. They should be paid equally.’’

Robert Meyeringh, 71, an oil trader from Coral Gables, said the issue was “a mathematical one.’’

“If someone is pulling in more people to watch the show,’’ Meyeringh explained, “regardless of gender, they should be paid proportionately. “They should be paid according to the audience they draw. This isn’t a gender issue, it’s a numbers issue.’’

Bob Leigh, 62, of Palm Beach, said the game “goes in cycles’’ and “men and women should get equal pay for equal play – as long as men and women have to play the same amount of sets. In some major tournaments, women have to win two of three sets and men have to win three of five. That’s unfair.”

Leigh’s friend, Mary Ellen Longo, 58, of Delray Beach, said men do draw the bigger crowds and fans often have to pay more to see them.

“The truth is men do attract more attention and bring more fans – ask the ticket brokers. Djokovic just took it back because it’s politically incorrect.”

Ava Casell, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from Buffalo, New York, was attending her first Miami Open on Wednesday.

“I believe everybody should have equal rights,’’ Ava said, “and nobody is better than anybody else. Women should be paid the same.’’

Asked who she would rather see, Djokovic or World No. 1 woman Serena Williams, Ava smiled.

“I would rather see both,’’ she said.

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