The startling disparity in the length of the men’s and women’s finals at Wimbledon has once again re-ignited the debate around equal pay and prize money.
Simona Halep took just 58 minutes to crush Serena Williams in the ladies final on Saturday, winning 6-2, 6-2.
In complete contrast, Novak Djokovic needed an extraordinary four hours and 57 minutes to see off Roger Federer, prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the longest final in Wimbledon history.
Playing best of five sets, Djokovic spent 18 hours and 1 minute on court across the whole tournament, while Halep’s total time playing best of three was less than the entire men’s final.
However as is the norm at tennis’ grand slams, both winners receive equal prize money - in the case of this year’s Wimbledon £2.35m (AU$4.2m).
Inevitably, that’s reignited the debate about gender equality, led by Austrian player Julian Knowle.
The #equality debate in #tennis sounds laughable & really unfair to me: 56mins played in Women's Final vs a gruelling 4hrs55mins played in today's Men's Final doesn't warrant equal pay in my opinion. Women's tennis should also be played in the best of 5 sets format. #Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/XnnNKjuH7x— Phila J. MADONDO (@PhilaJMadondo) July 14, 2019
At this point yesterday the women’s final was over. The men are still on the first set - and they get equal prize money now - seems fair 😂🙄— PerkyG (@perkyg) July 14, 2019
Woman’s Final: 55 minutes— CafcSam (@SamLegg0) July 14, 2019
Men’s Final: 4hr 57 minuets
Equal Prize money👍
Nice one. #Wimbledon2019
@DjokerNole and Halep got same prize money. Equal prize money is very fair.— Kkhan91752 (@kkhan91752) July 14, 2019
So the men's #Wimbledon final goes for 5 hours while the women play for under 1 hour. I really can't see the argument for equal prize money. Until the women also have 5 sets to fight it out, prize money should not be the same. Reward for effort.#tennis— Don't believe the hype (@AyalTusia) July 14, 2019
How is a women’s final that went 6-2 6-2 in about 45 minutes the same prize money as a men’s final that went about 5 hours? I’m all for gender equality, but if you want an equal share of the pot do your equal share of the work. #Wimbledon— Hand of Negouai (@RolandRatReagan) July 14, 2019
Unpopular opinion: women's singles #Wimbledon prize money shouldn't equal the men's singles as they don't do anywhere near the same amount of work 🤷 look at the gulf between the finals!— Mrs Chris M (@CSM76) July 14, 2019
Wimbledon, women's final all over in 58 minutes, mens final 4hrs long, prize money equal.— Danny Howells (@0707danny) July 14, 2019
All for the equal prize money, but surely womens tennis in the slams needs to be 5 sets? #Wimbledon #EqualPay #EqualPlay
And tell me again why women tennis players get equal prize money 🤷🏻♂️ surely they should play the same best of 5 sets too 👀🤔 #Wimbledon ......— Niall Horan (@niallhoran) July 14, 2019
I'm all for equal pay for men and women but how can Wimbledon justify the ladies champion getting the same prize money (2.35 million) as the men when their game is over in less than an hour and men's final is still playing after 3hrs 20!!! 🤔— Liz (@ejwlfc) July 14, 2019
It's the whole concept of equal pay for unequal work that's the issue. Women players only do 60% of the work max (3/5 sets) & at a much lower, less competitive standard. Halep spent less time on court in the entire tournament than Djokovic did in the final. Yet is paid the same.— Chris Gilmour (@Chris_Gilmour) July 14, 2019
Djokovic’s great escape
Djokovic is savouring the greatest grand slam Houdini act of his celebrated career after fighting off two match points to capture a fifth Wimbledon singles crown.
In a captivating, history-making final of wildly fluctuating fortunes, Djokovic denied Federer to retain the title he won last year and add to the trophies he also landed at the All England Club in 2011, 2014 and 2015.
The epic encounter was the longest title decider in the championships' 152-year history, surpassing Rafael Nadal's similarly dramatic four-hour, 46-minute win over Federer in 2008.
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Following a rule change introduced only this year, Sunday's tension-filled final set - which stretched more than two hours alone - was the first ever decided in a tiebreaker after games were locked at 12-all.
"Congratulations, man, that was crazy," Federer said after Djokovic became the first player to win a Wimbledon men's singles final after saving championship points since Bob Falkenburg in 1948.
"I'll try to forget," Federer added after dropping his serve from 40-15 up at 8-7 in the tension-filled final set.
Djokovic's 16th grand slam title vaulted the Serbian superstar to within four of Federer's record 20 and two behind Rafael Nadal's 18.
After winning four of the past five slams, few would back against the 32-year-old from reeling in Federer's benchmark haul as the battle for greatest of all time (GOAT) status intensifies.
For now, Djokovic is content enough after emulating the five-time Wimbledon feats of legendary Swede Bjorn Borg (1976-80) and Englishman Laurie Doherty (1902-1906) in the most extraordinary fashion.
"This was if not the most exciting and most thrilling final I was ever part of, then definitely top two or three against one of the greatest of all time," said the jubilant world No.1.
"He inspires me for sure. Unfortunately in these kind of matches one of the players have to lose.
"It's quite unreal to be down two match points and come back and win. It was a huge relief in the end, honestly.
It was probably the most mentally demanding match I was ever part of.
"I had the most physically demanding match against Nadal in the finals of Australia that went almost six hours, but mentally this was different level, because of everything.
"I'm just obviously thrilled and overjoyed with emotions to be sitting here in front of you as a winner. It was one shot away from losing the match.
"It could have gone easily his way."