French Open to award equal pay

Paris, March 17:

The French Open will award equal prize money to male and female players throughout the tournament, falling in line with the three other Grand Slam tournaments.

The announcement on Friday by the French Tennis Federation extends last year’s decision. The French Open paid the men’s and women’s singles champions the same for the first time, although the overall prize fund remained larger for men.

“In 2007, the parity will be total,” federation president Christian Bimes said. Bimes said he had been “particularly sensitive” to recent remarks by Venus Williams about the quality of play in women’s tennis.

Equalizing the pay will increase the total purse to $20.34 million — a 7.2 percent increase from last year and a record at the French Open, which runs May 27-June 10.

Men and women’s singles winners will each receive $1.33 million, also a French record. Wimbledon organizers announced last month that they will pay women the same as men.

The move was also welcomed by Belgium’s Justine Henin, winner of the French Open champion in three of the past four years.