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Volume 24 No. 112

Events and Attractions

French tennis player Gilles Simon was “unrepentant” after stating that female players should not receive equal pay at Wimbledon and he “pointed to the disparity in prices for admission to the men's and women's singles finals at Wimbledon as evidence that his perspective is mirrored in the wider community,” according to Jamie Jackson of the GUARDIAN. He said his fellow competitors "think like me, that's for sure, if that's the question." When asked if he was “disappointed that [Roger] Federer or any of his peers had not publicly concurred,” Simon said, "I'm pretty sure they're thinking the same way as me. Maybe they can't say it. Maybe they won't, maybe they will lose, I don't know, two million dollar on the contracts if they say that.” Simon added, “I have the feeling that men's tennis is actually more interesting than women's. It's not because we play five sets and they are playing three. Just check the price of the ticket from the men's final and the woman's final for example. It's not about me anymore, it's about the tennis. That's the way it works in life and everything." Simon has “found himself under fire” from Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. With regard to his stance that the men's game offers greater entertainment, Sharapova said, "I'm sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than his, so." Williams added: "Definitely a lot more people are watching Maria than Simon. She's way hotter than he is. Women's tennis is really awesome" (GUARDIAN, 6/29). WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said, “Tennis is aligned with our modern, progressive society when it comes to the principle of equality. I can’t believe in this day and age that anyone can still think otherwise” (London INDEPENDENT, 6/29).

POPULAR VOTE: In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes, “This is nonsense, for reasons that go beyond political correctness and gender equity. While it is true that (some) men's tennis is more popular at Wimbledon, it is arguably less popular right now at the U.S. Open, where Williams is America’s only hope for a title. Once you start divvying the pot by popularity, then Simon should get paid very little for his matches and Sharapova should be paid much more” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/29).

PIPE DOWN: Sharpova said the WTA’s plan to introduce maximum noise levels and to penalize those who exceed them was a “smart idea.” When asked if she could “alter her technique to reduce the noise she makes” in play, Sharapova said, “Certainly not now, not since I’ve been doing it since I was four years old. It’s definitely tough and impossible to do when you’ve played this sport for over 20 years.” In London, Victoria Ward notes tennis player Heather Watson “rolled her eyes when told about proposals to start teaching junior players how to breathe differently.” She said, “There’s an educational programme?” Tennis player Laura Robson “giggled” when told about the proposal (London TELEGRAPH, 6/29).

EPL players Craig Bellamy, Paul Robinson and Aaron Hughes “were recruited to headline the ‘Disney Soccer Academy,’ a two-week training camp” that is part of a "broader push by Disney World to stage more soccer events at its sprawling ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,” according to Jason Garcia of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The academy, which wrapped up Thursday, is in its second year and parents of about “300 youngsters, ranging in age from 6 to 18, paid $390 a child for practice sessions under the supervision of the three soccer stars.” Disney now hosts “more than a dozen soccer events a year.” The company said that “close to 100,000 athletes, fans and coaches have attended its soccer events during the past year.” Disney hopes to “nurture soccer's growth further.” This year it has added “four more playing fields at Wide World of Sports, boosting the total to 17.” It also “successfully lobbied for $1 million from the Florida Legislature for local sports boosters to give to Major League Soccer teams that hold preseason training camps in Central Florida.” Disney's interest in soccer “is twofold.” For one, resort officials said that it is “among the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. in terms of youth participation.” For another, the sport is “enormously popular with international audiences.” Disney said that its research shows 85% of the people “drawn by Wide World of Sports events would not have otherwise visited the resort.” To elevate its “soccer pedigree with overseas amateurs, Disney in March struck a six-year sponsorship with AS Roma of the Italian League.” The goal is to “stage more events” like next month's Disney Cup Int'l Youth Soccer Tournament. Organizers said that the week-long event is “expected to draw 190 teams and nearly 9,000 players, coaches and spectators from 18 countries” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/28).