ROGER is a heart surgeon. For fifty gruelling hours each week he operates under immense pressure with consummate skill, saving lives. For this he is, quite rightly, well remunerated to the tune of £5,000 a week.

Serena is a part-time manicurist. She works for ten hours per week in a nail bar, chatting to the customers as she titivates their hands. For this she is also paid £5,000 a week.

Not even the most strident feminist, I’d suggest, would argue that this was an equitable reward for the pair’s efforts. Yet its sporting equivalent happened over the weekend in London SW19.

The loser in Saturday’s ladies’ singles final, Serena Williams, won just four games against Simona Halep. She hit two aces and 17 winners during a one-sided two-set match which petered out after less than an hour.

By contrast, Sunday’s men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer was the longest ever at just under five hours of enthralling action between the world’s top two players. Federer, who lost, won 36 games in a classic match which culminated in a tie-break after the fifth set went to 12-all. He hit 25 aces and 94 winners.

For these hugely contrasting performances, Williams and Federer both received £1.175million as their runner’s up prize since the tennis authorities bowed to pressure from the women’s game for equal pay. Go figure.

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Alan Ashworth
Alan Ashworth is a former national newspaper journalist now retreated to the Ribble Valley, where he grows cacti and tramps the fells with the family dog Bingo. He and his wife Margaret run a website, A-M Records , which includes their collected TCW columns plus extra features including Tracks of the Day. Requests, queries and comments can be sent to alanj126@yahoo.co.uk