Krajicek reopens sexist pay debate

June 27, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

WIMBLEDON, England -- The latest Wimbledon controversy started with 11th seed Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands talking to a Dutch radio reporter after his five-set loss to Arnaud Boetsch of France. It ended with the revival of a controversy that has embroiled professional tennis for several years.

Krajicek told the Dutch reporter that "80 percent of the top 100 women's players are fat pigs and don't belong on the show courts," after his 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 2-6 loss to Boetsch.

When later he was hit with a barrage of questions, Krajicek barely retracted his original comment.

"I just over-exaggerated a little bit -- what I meant to say was that only 75 percent are," said Krajicek. "What I meant to say is that a lot of women are overweight, but that's not the point I was trying to make.

"There are a few that are pretty fat, but that's normal. I'm just trying to say they are complaining all the time that they are not getting equal prize money, and I think they should be happy with what they're getting."

There is a discrepancy between the payout to men and women at two of the four Grand Slam tournaments. The U.S. Open and Australian Open have equal awards. The men's champion here will receive $470,000, and the women's champion will earn $415,000. Women also earn less at the French Open.

When Krajicek's remarks were relayed back to some of the top women players, their reaction wasn't surprising. It was the same way they reacted to similar comments made a couple of years ago by Australian Pat Cash.

"I guess I don't qualify for those 80 percent since my body fat is lower than his [Krajicek's]," said Martina Navratilova. "Everybody is entitled to their opinions, but I don't think I would call my fellow competitors pigs. I think you can call them fat, certainly some of them are, as there are some men players. But that doesn't make you a great player or a lazy player."

Asked what she would do if she saw Krajicek, Navratilova said jokingly, "I'm going to beat him up."

* It was billed as a battle between two of the hardest hitters in the game. But Goran Ivanisevic and Marc Rosset only combined for 37 aces, mainly because the match went three sets.

"When he puts a first serve in, there's nothing to do, you just go to the other side," Ivanisevic said after his 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-4 victory over Rosset, whose 134-mph serve last year was the fastest recorded at Wimbledon.

Ivanisevic is no slouch when it comes to serving blurs. He now has 86 aces in his three matches, including 34 in a second-round victory over Mark Woodforde. The Wimbledon record is 42 by John Feaver of Great Britain.

* British players have such a poor history at Wimbledon, and everywhere else, that Jeremy Bates' run into the third round this year has caused a stir at the betting parlors. Well, at least someone is putting a little money on one of the locals.

A total of 88 pounds has been wagered on Bates winning the title, which is more than has been bet on all the British players combined in the past 10 years. Fred Perry was the most recent British men's player to win here, with a run of three straight titles from 1934 to 1936. Virginia Wade won the women's title in 1977.

"We were inundated with nine bets after the victory over [Michael] Chang," said Graham Sharpe, a spokesman for the William Hill betting house. "Now we are hoping for another influx of patriotic money."

Bates, by the way, has been given one of the easiest draws. In his opening match, Bates, the 113th-ranked player in the world, upset seventh-seed Chang, who lost in the first round last year as well. In the second round, he beat Javier Sanchez, a clay-court player, and will face Thierry Champion, another clay-courter, in today's third round.

"I have been playing for 10 years and it has never happened to me before," Bates said of his new-found celebrity. "I find it incredible. To me, I won a match Tuesday and today I won another match and suddenly everyone wants me to have an autograph or take pictures."

The odds of Bates winning Wimbledon started out at 1,000-1 and are now down to 200-1, the same as for Princess Diana giving birth to twins next year. Considering the problems these days in the royal family, Bates might even have a better shot.

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