Serena Williams was forced to go on the attack once again on Thursday to defend equal prize money after she reached a ninth Wimbledon final in a new record time.
The world number one blasted Russia’s Elena Vesnina off Centre Court in just 48mins 34sec, the fastest ever semi-final at the All England Club.
Vesnina earned £500,000 ($649,000) by making the last four.
In contrast, Marin Cilic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, beaten in the men’s quarter-finals on Wednesday, received £250,000 ($324,000) despite spending seven and half hours on court and playing five sets apiece.
World number one Williams, 34, who is bidding for an Open Era record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title, cantered to a 6-2, 6-0 win over her 50th-ranked opponent.
Serena, who faces Australian Open winner Angelique Kerber in Saturday’s championship match, fired 11 aces, 28 winners and committed just seven unforced errors, breaking serve five times to reach her 28th Grand Slam final.
Vesnina won just three points off the Williams serve in the first set and none in the second.
“Yeah, I think we deserve equal prize money. Yeah, absolutely,” said Williams before staring out the male journalist who asked the question with steely contempt.
“I mean, if you happen to write a short article, you think you don’t deserve equal pay as your beautiful colleague behind you?”
Williams warmed to her topic, insisting that the dedication to her sport which she developed as a child on the public courts and in the tough neighbourhoods of Los Angeles should not be treated less seriously just because of her sex.
“Well, I would like to see people, the public, the press, other athletes in general, just realise and respect women for who they are and what we are and what we do,” she said.
“I’ve been working at this since I was three years old. Actually maybe younger, because I have a picture where I’m in a stroller. I think (sister) Venus is actually pushing me, and we’re on the tennis court.
“Basically my whole life I’ve been doing this. I haven’t had a life. I don’t think I would deserve to be paid less because of my sex, or anyone else for that matter in any job.”
Vesnina was equally adamant that she and her fellow women players deserve equal rewards.
“We have also good quarter-final matches on the women’s side,” said the 29-year-old Russian, who was over-powered by Williams on her maiden semi-final appearance at a Slam.
“I think it’s not just depending on the score. It’s just amazing that we have such a great champion like Serena on the women’s side. I don’t think that it’s the right topic to speak about that.
“We had amazing matches here in the women’s tournament, amazing matches with the guys. The women’s event is tough, I can say. We deserve what we have right now.”
German fourth seed Angelique Kerber, who beat Venus Williams to make Saturday’s final, also insisted fans got value for money even though both semi-finals were done and dusted in two hours.
“We are giving everything on court, everybody. It doesn’t matter if you win or if you lose, I mean, that’s sports,” said Australian Open champion Kerber.
“We give our best. You never know if it’s two hours or, at the end, eight hours.”