Why is there room at the top for only one women’s sport?
Now we head into the final weekend of the French Open, a showcase of two exciting singles finals. The Women’s Championship match in Paris will see two players on the verge of engaging in a long battle for the supremacy of women’s tennis.
Iga Swiatek, the 21-year-old Polish champion who won this tournament in 2020, plays a form of clean and great tennis that has her on the verge of winning 35 games in a row.
Standing in her way will be 18-year-old American Coco Gauff, the effervescent miracle who may, in fact, be too entrenched to be considered a miracle anymore. A major tournament final, making it bold and unapologetic, made Gauff’s seal as a permanent and major force.
Gauff and Swiatek are giving their date shows on Saturday. In Sunday’s men’s final, Rafael Nadal will seek his 14th French Open singles title in a match against No. 8 seed Casper Ruud, the first Norwegian man to reach a Grand Slam singles final.
Both matches are expected to attract huge and nearly equal crowd interest, but women’s tennis still has to engage in a battle for justice. We’ve seen it unfold again on the red clay at Roland Garros for the past couple of weeks (more on this later). However, professional tennis sets the standard for popularity and viability in women’s sports – and it’s nowhere near that.
Thanks to the fight for fairness spearheaded by legends like Althea Gibson, the Williams Sisters, and Billie Jean King, the women’s professional game is constantly playing out ahead of full and enthusiastic crowds. Their finals often Attract more viewers than men In the highlights. Off the field, the best players Endorsement and golden social media. In the four Grand Slam tournaments, they have been earning equal prize money since 2007. Either Gauff or Swiatek will receive $2.4 million.
Every major tennis tournament presents an opportunity to question why other women’s sports don’t share the same level of success.
Professional golf is the closest, but it doesn’t have it. Nor big football.
Interest in sports such as gymnastics, figure skating, swimming and skiing grows when the Olympics approach, but when the games are over, it always fades away.
Women’s basketball is growing in popularity, particularly at the college level. However, in the professional ranks, it seems that the fight for respect will continue for years. Last week, when I wrote a column About a former star from a major college team struggling to fulfill her dream of making the WNBA team, the responses have been typical.
One reader said that women’s basketball is “just a big yawn.” An old acquaintance called to give a standard sentence: “A woman can’t drown, so I don’t watch.”
The idea that math should be done just like men do makes no sense. We should be able to enjoy and appreciate both on their own merits. Tennis is the best example. In general, you don’t hit the best tennis players with the power and spin of the top professional men.
However, the Women’s Tour is more than just a tour of its own.
Why can’t other sports?
There are no simple answers that explain the superiority of tennis.
The participation of both men and women in glory at Wimbledon and in the French, American and Australian Championships certainly adds to the prestige and luster of the women’s game.
We still live in a world where strong, strong women who break the mold struggle for acceptance. Consider the WNBA, staffed with outspoken, mostly black women, who have demonstrated a societal willingness to take aggressive stances for gay rights, reproductive freedom, and politics. How do you think this is going down in so many corners of America and the world?
Yes, tennis often has a few outspoken players willing to openly resist authority. In the game’s modern era, Venus and Serena Williams have only done it by showing up and dominating. Naomi Osaka walked into the bases with her face masks in protest of black rights. But the vast majority of women in tennis wear their big power quietly, behind the scenes, and in a way that doesn’t upset the overly male-dominated status quo. To think this is not a factor in the popularity of the professional tour would be foolish.
Men, of course, formed their biggest union decades before the era of women’s empowerment. Major League Baseball traces its lineage back to 1876. The NFL until 1920. The NFL, for comparison, was founded in 2012, and the NFL in 1997. For decades, men sucked all the oxygen, and the stars of the biggest professional sports became their idols. icons. Television and radio amazed their games: Willie Maes Super Field he caught me at the 1954 World Championships; Johnny Unita leads the Baltimore Colts past the Giants in 1958 NFL Championship; Boston Celtics announcer Johnny Most yells, “Havlichk stole the ball! “ In 1965.
Through the enduring power of radio and television, these and countless other moments of greatness are forever engraved in memory. They did not include women.
Time changes everything, but slowly.
1973 “Battle of the Sexes” – king Against a bag of chauvinistic winds, Bobby Riggs – set a fresh, lasting tone. Their match drew 90 million viewers, making it one of the most watched sports spectacles of its time or then, and helped launch women’s tennis to previously unimaginable heights.
But the controversy does not end. At the French Open over the past two weeks, the organizers have organized night sessions that feature what they describe as today’s match. Ten have been played. Only one was a women’s match.
Talk about complicated. Table controversy kick When Amelie Mauresmo, tournament director and former top-ranked player, of all people, said she set the night schedule because the men’s game has more “oomph” than the women’s game right now.
This means that Swiatek, the number one and former Paris champion with a massive winning streak, was not attractive enough. Goff wasn’t attractive enough. Same for the four-time main champion in Osaka, or last year’s young and glamorous US Open finalists, Leila Fernandez and Emma Raducano. Nobody takes mud at night.
Whenever things change, things remain the same.
Players and power brokers in women’s tennis must always be vigilant, but they have an amazing advantage: their differences, their battles to be taken seriously, and their championship matches unfold on the biggest stages before the eyes of the world.
But why should women’s tennis be alone?