Rafael Nadal was asked his opinion about equal pay in tennis and his answer was disappointing.
Q: “In tennis, should women earn as much as men?”— naturelle (@naturelle13) June 9, 2018
Nadal: “It’s a comparison we shouldn’t even make. Female models earn more than male models and nobody says anything. Why? Because they have a larger following. In tennis too, who gathers a larger audience earns more”.
Nadal invoked the argument that female models get paid more than male models as justification, arguing that male models are paid less because of a “lesser following.”
The issue is that the ATP and WTA operate independently.
Two separate entities operate inside tennis with the ATP handling men’s marketing, and the WTA handling women’s tennis. While Nadal is correct that men’s tennis is a bigger draw marketing wise, there has been contention whether the ATP should do more to help promote the women’s game.
In addition, this is not a hard and fast rule like Nadal points out. Recent years have seen the women’s draw attracting as much attention in Grand Slam finals, which saw the women’s final of the U.S. Open, for example, out draw the men’s from 2010-14.
Nadal isn’t the first player to talk like this.
In 2015 Novak Djokovic made similar comments about pay, justifying why women get paid less.
“I applaud them for that, I honestly do. They fought for what they deserve and they got it. On the other hand I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches. I think that’s one of the reasons why maybe we should get awarded more. Women should fight for what they think they deserve and we should fight for what we think we deserve.”
Ultimately there’s no evidence a change in pay to women would have any bearing on what men would be paid, and yet Nadal continues (like Djokovic before him) to defend practices that lead to women being paid less than men.