Sport doesn’t get any pettier than this
Rome was responsible for some of the greatest advancements in world history but it's being dragged kicking and screaming into the era of equality.
Case in point, the Italian Open.
The traditional lead-in tournament to Roland Garros has historically been one of the most unequal when it comes to prize money.
Men's players normally earn close to double what the women do - despite all four grand slams offering equal prizemoney since Wimbledon finally got on board in 2007.
Last year Rafael Nadal took home $1.56 million as the men's winner in Rome while female champion Karolina Pliskova pocketed just $850,000.
But COVID has hit the finances of the sports world hard in 2020 and, without full stadiums, every tennis tournament since the sport restarted can only afford to offer a fraction of what it normally hands to the players.
The Italian Open massively cut its prizemoney, but in an encouraging development it became somewhat more equitable.
Despite a large disparity for those who exited the tournament early, players making the latter stages were paid pretty similarly. This is what each player took home in the men's and women's draws (we've kept the figures in euros so they make sense).
Men: Winner - 205,200, Finalist - 150,000, Semi-finalist - 100,000, Quarter-finalist - 75,000, Third round - 61,000, Second round - 37,490, First round - 21,190
Women: Winner - 205,190, Finalist - 150,000, Semi-finalist - 80,000, Quarter-finalist - 37,910, Third round - 19,355, Second round - 13,745, First round - 9,000
At a quick glance it's some cause for celebration as the gap markedly closes from 2019.
But eagle-eyed fans couldn't help but notice the peculiar payment to the finalists.
Both Diego Schwartzman, who lost the final to Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-3, and Pliskova, who was unable to repeat as champion after withdrawing midway through her final against Simona Halep with injury in a 6-0 2-1 defeat, received 150,000 euros.
But as the men's winner Djokovic took home 10 euros more than Halep in a decision that can't be viewed any other way than extraordinarily petty.
"There just *had* to be that extra 10 euros for the guy, huh?" tennis fan Bob Kim wrote on Twitter.
"Utterly hilarious that Rome, long an unequal prize money event, came SO CLOSE to giving equal prize money to both the finalists and champions today, but then decided to reduce the women's prize money by *10 EUROS* to keep the men on top, however slightly," added tennis scribe Ben Rothenberg.
"The Rome women's champ made 99.995 cents on the dollar of the men's champ. Yes, the overall pay gap is a bigger deal, but the pettiness of the inequality on the top line is far more symbolic. That's not 'market forces' etc at all, that's just fragile masculinity and misogyny."
Originally published as Sport doesn't get any pettier than this