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Let’s talk about tennis, women and equality

Tennis is one of the sports where the male and female circuits are the most equal, especially if we compare it to other sports; As in all areas of society, true equality, complete equality, still has a long way to go. In this article we talk about it: tennis, women who made history and equality.

Some of the pioneers from the beginning to today

The English Charlotte Cooper has gone down in history for being the first women’s tennis Olympic champion. In 1900, she was able to participate in the Paris Olympics, where women were admitted to the first Olympics, and she won the championship after defeating France in the final. Helene Prevost 6-1, 7-5. However, her first individual tournament was won at Wimbledon in 1895. The oldest tournament in the world, but which held its first women’s tournament in 1884, seven years after its inception.

Thus, the first woman to win the prestigious English tournament was Maud Watson. She was the best of 19 players, defeating her sister in the final Lillian Watson from 6 to 8 6 to 3 and 6 to 3. The Australian Open didn’t have them until the 1922 version, 17 years after its opening.

The first black winner

Another woman who made history at Wimbledon was Althea Gibson, the first black tennis player to win a match England tournament in 1951. It was not easy for Gibson until the right of veto was removed, blacks were banned from playing the tournament. She had to fight against double discrimination: woman and black. Then in 1957 it went down in history again, it took over the title.

At the national level, e.g. Lili Alvarez was Pioneer of women’s sports in SpainHe practiced many sports. In tennis, he was a Wimbledon finalist in 1926–1928. A tournament that many years later, in 1994, would win Conchita Martinez, the first Spaniard (both male and female) to do so. And it is that both the Aragonese and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, probably unknowingly, helped the Spanish population and especially the girls of the 80s and 90s to understand that sport is not just for men. That women can also earn money through sports, i.e. as a profession.

Professionalism, which in the case of women started in 1970 when nine women started WTA circuit with a symbolic one-dollar contract, with which they seek better rewards and the opportunity to dedicate themselves to their sport with dignity.

These are just some of the milestones women have achieved since the beginning of tennis. However, to this day, they continue to make strides towards aligning with the ATP circuit. Sometimes small, but always making all the women visible, as usual Sada Nahima who is only 17 years old, is the first woman from Burundi, yes Burundi, to win WTA points.

The pay gap among women

In 1973, US Open, as a show of support for the fledgling WTA, it was the first major tournament to award equal prize money to men and women. However, to this day, although the situation of the four Grand Slams is not equal (Wimbledon joined last), there are still differences in the number of prizes between the tournaments of one circuit and another. .

French tennis player Caroline García defined it this way: «The Grand Slam tournaments have the same prizes, but there are many international tournaments where the difference between what men and women earn is large. We play as many games or more than them but we win less, it doesn’t make sense. We are changing things in tennis and it is a privilege to be a pioneer, but we have to realize that there is still a long way to go. Rafael Nadal recently backed up García’s words, asserting that women’s tennis is at a very high level and that he wouldn’t mind if they won more than «us».

A conversation that continues

The debate is still up in the air, as many attribute this gap to girls playing fewer sets and attracting fewer audiences. Regardless of the physical differences (which are not due to education but human nature) and the logic of the whiting biting its own tail, which says that in a macho society like the one we live in, where there is much more media coverage of men’s sports than women’s sports, leads to , that the audience does not know (at least to the same extent) that women’s pageants exist, or know about women’s allusions to deification; and therefore their competitions and their athletes have less follow-up than men.

Wouldn’t it be more interesting for the fans if the boys also played three-set matches and not those five-hour marathons that are impossible for a follower with a normal work and social life to follow from start to finish?

My coach is a woman, and?

Another of the latest controversies related to equality in tennis is the controversy over female coaches. In Spain we experienced this problem a few years ago Gala Leon He was chosen Davis Cup captain and some fans and players raised their hands over their heads.

The Spaniard’s uncle and coach Toni Nadal also made a statement on the matter months earlier, saying that Gala León’s choice was something.strange«question»let’s say logistics«, arguing»that usually very few clothes are worn in the Davis Cup dressing room and the situation is a bit uncomfortable«.

Let’s remember that Gala Leon He was a professional tennis player for 14 years and in 2000 reached the world ranking of 27. Likewise, he has trained and practices as a high-level competition coach, etc. The dispute was resolved when Conchita Martínez was already selected as such in the Federation Cup. Perhaps it was the least bad solution or a way to justify that his complaints were not due to the fact that Gala León was a woman, but not well-known enough (we return to the aforementioned logic), as was also hinted during those months.

Mauremo and Murray

At the last Australian Open, we experienced something similar again. This time though he feminist zasca Lucas Pouille and McEnroe He solved it flawlessly. McEnroe asked him why he had a female coach. And this was clear and concise: «It’s not about being male or female. It’s about knowing what you’re doing, and she (Amelie Mauresmo) knows everything about tennis«. The moment went viral.

The Frenchman, one of the few as a female coach, has not been the only one who has had to justify the choice of a woman as a coach. Andy Murray he relied on France’s Mauresmo before him, and his mother, Judy Murray, was one of the pioneers as a trainer.

Although there are still very few of them among women, they primarily train women. This is the case of the Spanish Conchita Martínez or Anabel Medina; or Davenport, Stone or Navratilova. Thus, tennis coaching, like other professions, has a large gender gap.

What does it matter what I wear if I play tennis?

Another of the macho issues surrounding tennis (and many other sports and professions in general) is dress. Why does the media often talk more about what tennis players wear than their results? Why is her beauty often talked about more than tennis? And why is a female tennis player penalized for changing her shirt on court and a male is not?

The cases of Cornet and Serena

The latter happened to the French Alize Cornet At the US Open, when he changed his shirt when he realized he was wearing it backwards. He was penalized, which doesn’t happen when men show their bodies to change their shirts. After the criticism, the US Open removed the exhibitionism rule from its code of conduct: «lMen can change their shirts in the chair without this being considered a rule violation. Women also have the right to it.

Another example was in the past at Roland Garros, when the president of the French Tennis Federation, Bernard Giudicelli, said in «Tennis Magazine» that they no longer allow Serena Williams in subsequent editions. «C»I think sometimes we have gone too far. For example, this year’s Serena outfit will no longer be accepted. The game and the place must be respected«, she claimed. Serena sported a black jumpsuit to ease circulation problems that increased after pregnancy and the birth of her daughter.

The American brand Nike stood up for Serena with an ironic and at the same time feminist message: «You can strip a superhero of his costume, but you can never take away his superpowers«. And the world and tennis is full of superheroines. About women who continue to assert and make visible (consciously or not) that we are all equal. About women who, as a result of the attack, continue to break barriers.

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