To say that Gilles Simon, currently seeded 13th in France and just elected to the ATP Player Council, "put his foot in his mouth" in an interview on Monday would be inaccurate; more aptly, he intentionally, with forethought and hubris, said something fucking dumb as a rock. Right after the anniversary of Title IX, too. Booooo.
Talking to the radio station France Info and newspaper L'Equipe after winning his first round match, Simon said that he was irritated that the men's tournament in Rome was a joint event with the women without this being signed off by him, citing under-attended women's tennis matches as the reason. He added that women shouldn't be paid as much as the men:
"I think that men's tennis is really ahead of women's tennis at this stage. Once more, the men spent surely twice as much time on court as the women at the French Open. We often talk about salary equality. I don't think it's something that works in sport. I think we are the only sport that has parity with the women in terms of prize money. Meanwhile, men's tennis remains more attractive than women's tennis at this moment... Am I going to incur the wrath of feminist organizations? I don't care,"
YES, #THEWRATH. Fear us, for we will grunt with an exertion that you find distractingly sexual. That's a thing too, remember! WTF, women's tennis? Naturally, the biggest women in tennis are spitting much-deserved barbs at Simon.
Maria Sharapova said:
"We women have fought so long to get equal prize money. It was a big challenge and nobody really supported us. It's been a few years since we've gotten that. We're all really proud of it, and we continue to build the sport and make it bigger. No matter what anyone says, or the criticisms that we get, despite everything else, I mean, I'm sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than his."
And Serena Williams:
"I mean, definitely, a lot more people are watching Maria than Simon. Women's tennis is really awesome. It's a great fight. We fought for years with Billie Jean King and Venus as well, really set the pattern on what we should do. I started playing tennis at 2 years old. I'm sure he started when he was 2 years old, as well. I worked just as hard as he did."
But perhaps the most revealing statement was that of Sloan Stephens, an 19-year-old American female tennis star, who told this story to the press at Wimbledon (which, incidentally, only began paying men and women the same amount of prize money in 2007, the last major to do so):
He hit me with a ball when I was ball kid for the first time. He hit me right in my chest because he lost a point and set he turned around and slammed the ball and it hit me. Whatever he says, that means nothing to me. We had a discussion about it on the court last year because he was trying to kick me off the practice court in Estoril and I'm like 'Dude, you don't have this court.' His coach was nice and he asked me, 'Why don't you like him?' and I said because when I was 10 he hit me with the ball and he didn't even say sorry and kind of walked off. So I was like, 'I don't like him.'"