Figures in the tennis world have hit back at suggestions women should be paid less money than men.

France's Gilles Simon sparked controversy after he claimed female players should not get as much as their male counterparts.

Simon, the 13th seed, was due to face Belgian Xavier Malisse in the second round at Wimbledon today.

But before the match, he said the current pay equality at grand slam tournaments is unfair.

He told France Info: "The male players spent twice as long on court at Roland Garros (during the recent French Open) as the women.

"The equality in salaries isn't something that works in sport.

"Men's tennis remains more attractive than women's tennis at the moment."

Wimbledon began offering equal prize money in 2007 after a unanimous vote in favour of the proposal by the championship committee.

The disparity was previously justified by the fact that men play best-of-five-set matches in grand slams while women play best-of-three.

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But players at SW19 have hit back against Simon's claims, saying women work just as hard.

Heather Watson, who became the first British woman to get through to the third round of Wimbledon in 10 years, said: "I think it is tough for the guys, especially at Wimbledon because it's five sets.

"At all the other tournaments I think it should be the same. We play the same amount of sets and have to work just as hard."

Ana Ivanovic, who secured her place in the second round after beating Spain's Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, said: "It's always been talked about, but we are different physiques as well.

"I think we earn our money as well. I mean, I was two and a half hours out there today."

This year Wimbledon increased its prize money for winners to £1.15m for men's and women's singles champions.

First-round losers get £14,500, a 26% increase from last year's £11,500.