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French Open will award equal pay

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PARIS, France -- The French Open will award equal prize money to all women and men players across the board in all events, the organizers announced on Friday.

"It has been our objective since 2005. Last year, the first step was to award equal rewards to the winners of the men's and women's singles. In 2007, the parity will be total," said French Federation chairman Christian Bimes in a statement.

The French Open is the last of the four grand slam tournaments to make the move.

Prize money will total $20.33 million, an increase of 7.23 percent, with the winners of the men's and women's singles receiving $1,330,700.

"Its very good news for women's tennis and for women in general terms. As a Frenchwoman, I'm happy and proud the French Open organizers took such a decision," said France's number one Amelie Mauresmo.

WTA Tour chief executive Larry Scott said:"The decision by Roland Garros today closes one chapter in the history of tennis and opens an exciting new one that will positively impact opportunities for women and girls in sport and society."

Billie Jean King, a leading campaigner for equality, said equal prize money at the four Grand Slams "has now become a non-issue, and I couldn't be happier.

Worth the wait

"As we knew it would, it has taken several years to accomplish this goal, but it has been well worth the wait, and we salute the French Tennis Federation for taking this decisive and final step to equality," she said.

The move was also welcomed by Belgium's Justine Henin, winner of the French Open champion in three of the past four years.

"There is no tournament that I feel closer to than Roland Garros, which makes today's decision to treat the woman as equals very special to me personally," she said.

Leading campaigner Billie Jean King said that she 'couldn't be happier'.

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