<
>

French Open to offer equal prize money

PARIS -- The French Open will offer equal prize money to the
men's and women's champions for the first time.

Each champion will receive $1.13 million, the French Tennis
Federation said Monday.

"We're following the evolution of tennis," said Stephane
Simean, the federation official in charge of prize money. "On the
women's side, there has been a very positive change, with the
arrival of many new stars."

Total prize money for the May 28-June 11 tournament will be
$17.21 million.

Wimbledon remains the only Grand Slam tournament that pays the
men's winner more than the women's champion. The U.S. and
Australian Opens have offered equal prize money for years.

"Once upon a time, there were only three or four dominant
women," Simean said. "Now, there are 10 to 15 who can vie for a
Grand Slam."

Overall, excluding mixed doubles, men will still take home more:
$8.09 million compared to $7.41 million for women.

"We look objectively at the criteria, and there is still not
the same density [of talent] on the women's side that there is on
the men's side," Simean said. "For the moment, we are focusing on
just the winners."

Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, applauded the
move toward equal prize money for the women's winner. However, he
thinks there should be parity for the remaining players.

"It is simply indefensible that 127 women's singles competitors
and an equal number of women's doubles players in a grand slam
tournament should be receiving considerably less prize money than
their male counterparts," Scott said.

Wimbledon will announce prize money for this summer's tournament
later this month.

"The remarkable quality and depth of play demonstrated by
professional women tennis players, combined with the global
popularity and media and sponsor interest in our players, merits
equal prize money at all the Grand Slams," Scott said.