LONDON – Former tennis champion Martina Navratilova said she was shocked to discover that Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC, paid John McEnroe at least 10 times more than her for their commentary of the Wimbledon tournament.
Navratilova said she found out McEnroe made at least £150 000 compared to her £15 000 when the BBC, under government pressure, released a list last year of the earnings of its top-earning presenters and journalists.
British companies are under heightened scrutiny over their pay structures, and the BBC has faced criticism from women complaining they are paid less than men in equivalent jobs and misled about their pay to hide widespread gender discrimination.
“Unless John McEnroe is doing a lot of stuff outside of Wimbledon, he’s getting at least 10 times as much money for very comparable work,” Navratilova said in an interview aired on Panorama, the BBC’s investigative programme, on Monday.
The nine-time Wimbledon champion said she was told she was receiving a similar amount to her male counterpart, but she was clearly “not told the truth, that’s for sure”, she said.
Panorama estimated US player McEnroe made about three times as many Wimbledon appearances as Navratilova, resulting in the difference in pay.
McEnroe, who won Wimbledon three times, was not immediately available to comment.
BBC Sport said McEnroe and Navratilova performed different roles in the team.
“John’s role is of a different scope and time commitment,” BBC Sport said in a statement to Panorama, citing that “gender isn’t a factor” in salary.
Navratilova agreed McEnroe was on air more. “Ten times as much? I don’t think so,” she said.
The BBC has admitted to a gender pay gap of 9 percent, meaning more men are in better paid jobs, but said this is narrower than the British average of 18 percent.
The corporation does not admit to paying women less than men for equal work.