I could get in trouble for this one, but contrary to IWF and this op-ed in the UK Times Online, I don't agree that women tennis players should get the same prize money as the men. As a strictly business decision, perhaps they should, since women's tennis does draw very big crowds. But from the standpoint of athletic ability, women's tennis doesn't come close to the level of play of the men's. I watch the major tennis events, and the majority of the women's matches are frankly boring. The women players typically stand back at the baseline and whale away, and eventually someone dumps the ball into the net or hits it out. There are more unforced errors than winning shots in the women's games. The men's games have a much greater variety of shots (volleys, dropshots, topspin lobs, etc), ball placement is better, and there's more of a net game. Nadal and Federer playing the French Open finals (1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7-4) ) earlier this month was light years more exciting to watch than Henin-Hardenne versus Svetlana Kuznetsova (6-4, 6-4). Don't even mention last year's French Open, when Henin-Hardenne killed Mary Pierce (6-1, 6-1). The finals between the Williams sisters a few years back were usually dreadful to watch.
There are some women who are versatile and skilled, including Henin-Hardenne, Mauresmo, Capriatti, Serena and Venus Williams, Clijsters, and Navratilova (who revolutionized women's tennis and still plays doubles tennis at age 50!). But unfortunately it's rare to see a truly exciting, competitve match in women's tennis. Another reason for paying the men more $$$ is that they play more sets (best of 5 instead of 3). Not sure I'd want to watch five sets of most women's tennis, the number of unforced errors would be astronomical. But in the men's competition, the game can change dramatically in sets 4 and 5. Some of the absolutely most exciting tennis is in the fifth set, when the men are exhausted and still manage to reach deep and pull out amazing winning shots.
"Venus Williams, the defending champion and three-time winner, said the women simply want to be treated equally. "This is not just about women's tennis but about women all over the world," she told BBC Radio before Wimbledon's announcement. "At Wimbledon we would like to have equal prize money to prove that we are equal on all fronts." "
UPDATE: Post-Wimbledon, I looked at stats between the top two men and top two women here.