Sharapova calls for equal prize money

MADRID, Spain -- Maria Sharapova, ranked third in the world, has demanded women players receive equal prize money to the men.

"I believe women are strong, bold and powerful and deserve
to be treated the same as men," the 19-year-old Russian told a
news conference on Thursday.

"There has been a long debate about equal prize money but
these things take time. If we keep pushing we'll eventually get

Of the four Grand Slam tournaments, Roland Garros and
Wimbledon still have a differential in prize money between the
men and the women, although the French Open will pay the men's
and women's singles champions the same this year.

Sharapova was speaking at a news conference highlighting the
WTA Tour's end-of-season championships' move to Madrid.

WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott hoped the championships would help
promote prize money parity.

"This will be the elite event in women's tennis with only
the top eight players competing at the end of the season for a
total prize money of $3 million. The winner will earn $1
million," Scott said.

The WTA says this will equal the largest winner's purse in
the history of women's sport.

The event takes place in the Spanish capital's Madrid Arena
from Nov. 7 to 12, in the month following the men's Madrid
Masters tournament.

"Madrid is known as a football city, but we hope in the
future it will also become known as the capital of tennis,"
Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon said.

To help promote the end-of-season event organizers have
modified one of the more controversial aspects of the Madrid
Masters, which uses female models as ball girls.

Later on Thursday Sharapova attends a selection process,
along with a celebrity panel, to choose the male models who will
act as ball boys in November.