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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 June 2006, 18:45 GMT 19:45 UK
Blair adds support for equal pay
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Blair was pressed on the issue at the House of Commons
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has added his voice to the increasing calls for equal prize money for men and women at the Wimbledon Championships.

Mr Blair said he "fully endorsed" demands, also made by LTA chief executive Roger Draper, for equal pay.

The winner of this year's women's singles title will receive 625,000 - 30,000 less than the men's winner.

Defending women's champion Venus Williams reignited the long-running debate on Monday.

Williams, writing in The Times newspaper, said the difference sends out a message that women are inferior

The US and Australian Opens offer equal pay for men and women throughout while the French Open awards equal prize money for its winners - but not in the earlier rounds.

The All England Club say the pay policy is based on simple economic reality rather than sexism.

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The issue has been raised with players several times already at Wimbledon.

World number one and defending men's champion Roger Federer said the relatively minor difference made it logical to offer parity in pay.

"If the difference is so small you might as well just make it equal," said Federer.

"It would make it simple I think. I would have no problems with it being equal prize money."

Maria Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon champion said she was also in full support.

"It would be stupid of me to say I don't want equal prize money," said Sharapova.

We will continue to lobby and work with the All England Club to ensure that in future years there is parity

LTA chief executive Roger Draper

"I think women and men should be treated equally. There's so much interest in women's tennis today - the public enjoy the women's game as much as the men's."

Earlier in the week, WTA Tour chairman Larry Scott became another to demand the All England Club fall into line with the other three Grand Slams, echoing Draper's comments

"It is clear there is very broad support in the UK and worldwide for equal prize money at Wimbledon," said Scott.

"And it is great that the national governing body for tennis in the UK, and a major shareholder in Wimbledon, have stepped up to speak out and are committed to achieving this."

Draper had said: "The LTA jointly host these Championships and we will continue to lobby and work with the All England Club to ensure that in future years there is parity.

"My vote on the Championships committee will continue to be for equality of pay."

SEE ALSO
State of the tennis nation
26 Jun 06 |  Tennis
Wimbledon isolated on equal pay
03 Apr 06 |  Tennis


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