Dennis Fitzgerald's thoughtfully written analysis, "Does Grand Slam Pay Policy Really Reward Equality?" is the best-written article against equal pay that I have read. Among other things, Fitzgerald cites what he calls "the disintegration of the women's game," referring to an increase in player withdrawals, abuse of injury timeouts and lack of player commitment. But even Fitzgerald, who argues strongly against the gender discrimination practiced by tournaments such as the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, misses some important points.
Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that men are physically stronger than women. Can we get everyone to agree that--most of the time--this is a fact? Then it follows that three sets for women is indeed equal to five sets for men, and the equal pay "issue" does not exist.
Now let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that women athletes are stronger than average women and better trained physically, and can indeed play five sets. They used to play five sets at the Year-End Championships, as a matter of fact. Now add to that a Grand Slam tournament like Wimbledon, where WTA players have asked to please be allowed to play five sets...and they were told "no."
You cannot have it both ways. Either the less physically strong gender should rationally play fewer sets, or--if it is determined that they can play five sets, a tournament such as Wimbledon has to allow them to.
Fitzgerald is correct, however, that there has been a decline in quality in the women's tour. The new WTA structure, with more time off, is supposed to take care of the chronic injury problem, but there are other problems, as cited by Fitzgerald, that need to be addressed.
Personally, I would like to see everyone--men and women--play three sets at all tournaments, Grand Slams included. That would leave more time to spare in the likely event of bad weather, and it would take away all existing "reasons" to remove the ad point from doubles and force doubles players to play that ridiculous super-tiebreak.