Venus Williams is considered a pioneer when it comes to men and women being paid equally in all four Grand Slams.
Williams fought for equal pay in 2006 when the French Open and Wimbledon paid the male players more than the female players. The former World No. 1’s actions were fruitful as both Majors announced in 2007 that men and women would be paid equally.
March 14 was National Equal Pay Day in the United States and the US Open used the occasion to mark 50 years since they became the first Grand Slam that paid male and female tennis players equally.
The tournament’s Twitter shared an image that had Billie Jean King in the centre along with the likes of Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Iga Swiatek, Emma Raducanu and Coco Gauff.
Venus Williams was placed in the left corner of the image and this did not sit well with tennis fans as many claimed that the 42-year-old was being disrespected after all her efforts in ensuring equal pay in Grand Slams.
One fan claimed that Williams was being disrespected and should be placed right next to Bille Jean King.
“Venus should be right next to BJK… y’all so damn disrespectful,” the fan’s tweet read.
One fan said that Venus Williams’ position in the picture was “nasty business” given her efforts towards equal pay in all Grand Slams.
“I’m sorry but to place Venus, at the back of this photo is NASTY business. Especially because today, because of her, and her valiant efforts towards equal pay, women earn the same as men, at not only Wimbledon – Other slams too,” the fan’s tweet read.
Another fan wrote that Williams’ efforts in ensuring women receive equal pay in Wimbledon was forgotten.
“Venus Williams should be right next to BJK. How easily you forget women get equal pay at Wimbledon thanks to her,” the fan’s tweet read.
Here are some more fan reactions:
Venus Williams wrote a powerful essay in 2006 that was instrumental in Wimbledon and French Open giving equal pay
Back in 2006, Venus Williams wrote a powerful essay, for English newspaper The Times, about Wimbledon not paying men and women equally.
“I believe that athletes, especially female athletes in the world’s leading sport for women should serve as role models. The message I like to convey to women and girls across the globe is that there is no glass ceiling,” Williams wrote.
The seven-time singles Grand Slams champion claimed that the grass-court Major’s stature was being diminished.
“My fear is that Wimbledon is loudly and clearly sending the opposite message. The All England Club is saying that the accomplishments of the 128 women are worth less than those of the 128 men. It diminishes the stature and credibility of such a great event in the eyes of all women,” she continued.
Williams also debated the theory that women weren’t capable of playing five-set matches like their male counterparts and claimed that the then-chairman of the All England Club Tim Phillips acknowledged this himself.
“This argument just doesn’t make sense; first of all, women players would be happy to play five sets matches in grand slam tournaments,” Williams wrote. “Tim Phillips, the chairman of the All England Club, knows this and even acknowledged that women players are physically capable of this.”
The American stated that men’s and women’s tennis both have the same value in the public’s eyes.
“Tennis is unique in the world of professional sports. No other sport has 60 men and women competing for a grand slam championship on the same stage, at the same time. So in the eyes of the general public the men’s and women’s games have the same value,” she added.
Wimbledon announced in 2007 that they would be paying men and women the same amount of prize money. Shortly after, the French Open also made the same decision, ensuring that all Grand Slams had equal pay.