In 2005, Venus Williams dominated the courts. She won Wimbledon after defeating Lindsey Davenport, in the longest female final in the history of Wimbledon. The prior day to the match, Williams assisted a reunion organized by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, the organization that direct the tournament, and she asked the attendants to close their eyes and imagine they were a Little girl that has been training during years only to “ you are not worth the same as a boy”.
During that year, Roger Federer defeated Andy Roddick in straight sets, winning $1.13 million dollars, contrasting that, Williams, won $1.08 million.
When she was asked in 2006, why the wage gap persisted despite de critics, Tim Phillips the president of the club, excused the discrepancy of the prizes arguing that the physical demands for the men in matches of 5 sets where higher in contrast of the matches of 3 sets the women played. Phillips added that the club didn’t saw the difference in the prize money as a “matter of equal rights”, and pointed that the Top 10 players of WTA won more than the Top 10 players of ATP the prior year by playing also the doubles tournament.
Later that year, Larry Scott, president of WTA, asked Venus if she was willing to play a major role in the search of wage equality, mission that she accepted.
Williams and other players involved needed a better argument over the format of the matches was why the men deserved a higher wage. The London Times published an article that got to the British parliament, Williams said that the structure of Wimbledon prize money.”
“It devalues the principle of meritocracy and diminishes the years of hard work that women on the tour have dedicated to become professional tennis players. The message I like to send to women and girls around the world is that the sky is not the limit. My fear is that Wimbledon is sending the opposite message out loud and clear”.
In 2007, all effort made by Williams paid off. Phillips, the All England Club president, announced:” this year, considering the general progression and the social factors, the committee decided that it is time to conclude this matter and eliminate the wage gap”.
After Venus knew about the decision made, she gave her own statement: “The biggest tennis tournament in the world has now reached a higher level. I am glad about the decision of Wimbledon, that today recognizes the value of female tennis”.
Williams, 39 years of age and near to the end of her career as a professional tennis player, will be remembered not only for her success in the courts or being Serena’s older sister, possibly the greatest player of all times, but for the victory in behalf of all the female players by achieving equality and inspiring many female athletes to raise their voices and demand evolution.
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