LONDON--You've got to at least give Gilles Simon credit for not turtling.
The new president of the ATP players council stirred the pot early this week by questioning equal pay for men and women in tennis, and after being eliminated at Wimbledon today by Xavier Malisse in straight sets, the Frenchman didn't back off or claim misquote.
"My point of view was just about ‑ it's a difficult topic ‑ but it was just about the entertainment. If you just watch how it is working in every other, like, sport, but even for the singers, for everything, you're just paid by the public directly," he said. "My point was that I have the feeling that men's tennis is actually more interesting than women's tennis. As in any business or anything, you just have to be paid just about that. It's not because we play five sets and they are playing three."
No less a figure than Maria Sharapova, No. 1 on the women's tour and the richest female athlete in history, took umbrage with Simon's point of view.
"We women have fought so long to get equal prize money," said Sharapova. "It was a big challenge and nobody really supported us. It's been a few years since we've gotten that. We're all really proud of it, and we continue to build the sport and make it bigger.
"No matter what anyone says, or the criticisms that we get, despite everything else, I mean, I'm sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than (Simon's), so..."
Ouch. Simon tried to stick to the larger issue in response, and said he believes the vast majority of players on the men's tour agree with him.
"It's not about me, one player, or another one. Maria is more famous than me. I know it. She deserves to win more money than me. That is not the problem," he said. "Just check the price of the ticket from the men's final and the woman's final for example. It's not about me anymore, it's about the tennis. That's the way it works in life and everything.
". . .entertainment is not about being a man or woman. It's just about, as I said, public coming to watch you or not. It's not about how hard you work. You can work hard and be a very famous singer. You can work hard and just sing in your bathroom. That's the way it works. It's maybe sad, but this is the way it works."
One one point Simon is bang on. At Wimbledon, the top price for the men's final is 120 pounds ($192 CAN). For the women's, 105 pounds ($168 CAN).
Let the debate continue.