Madrid Open owner Ion Tiriac—a Romanian billionaire and former pro tennis player—might head one of the few outside the Grand Slam events that pays male and female athletes equal prize money, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.

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Tiriac tells the New York Times that he’s been debating the future of equal pay with the Women’s Tennis Association because, despite currently offering comparable compensation at the Madrid Open, he does not feel it’s a sustainable system.

“I think we have to go and calculate how much money are the men putting on the table, and how much the women, with TV rights,” Tiriac says. “Because otherwise we have to compensate, and compensate, and compensate, and you cannot compensate forever. For that reason, it’s a beautiful sport, but I don’t think the women can complain that they don’t earn enough money.”

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He adds, “Saying that [women are] equal—they’re not equal... They are not bringing to the table the same thing.”

Don’t get Tiriac wrong—he definitely appreciates female tennis players:

“I like, very much more, women than men. All my life, I’ve done that. The longer the legs theirs are, the more beautiful I think they are. Even in tennis, they’re gracious and so on. But I don’t see the equal prize money being the status. Maybe they deserve more? Pay more the women if they deserve.”

Also:

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“I mean, once again, I prefer a woman on the court, they are beautiful on the court. Even Federer, who is very elegant, I prefer an elegant woman, not Mr. Federer.”

High praise, indeed.

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(Unrelated side note: Can someone develop a video game with a storyline that’s just the Williams sisters using their tennis racquets to knock the heads off of jerks and idiots?)


Image via Getty.