Melbourne: Tennis great Martina Navratilova on Monday said players were underpaid at the biggest tournaments, reigniting a debate that prompted rumours of a strike on the eve of the Australian Open.
Navratilova said organisers of tennis's four grand slams -- the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open -- should hand over a greater share of their profits to players.
"Compared to what a teacher is making, we are grossly overpaid. Compared to what the slams are grossing or netting I should say, they are underpaid," she said.
The holder of 18 grand slam singles titles said: "I think the grand slams are making a lot more than they're sharing with the players. I think that's a fact.
"When the players try to talk to them the grand slams are like, 'Oh, well. Get lost. Too bad.'"
Navratilova was speaking after several top stars voiced their support for better pay and conditions after a meeting of men's players in Melbourne, which followed discontent at September's US Open and hints of a strike.
Men's tour boss Brad Drewett later called the meeting "vocal" but played down the threat of a strike. And in a rare outburst, Rafael Nadal accused players' representative Roger Federer of not pushing hard enough for change.
Navratilova said the answer to improving prize money at the four grand slams was coordinated action by male and female players.
"If the men and women got together I think the grand slams would listen. When they're separated they can do what they want, which is what they've been doing," she said.
"I mean, the players made the slams big and the slams made the players big. It's a very symbiotic relationship, but the slams are ruling the roost," she added.
"They dictate everything to the players -- what you have to play, the points, the size of the logos."
"The grand slams are dictating, and they'll keep dictating as long as the men and women are separated," Navratilova said.