Gender debate in tennis is getting boring, we should be celebrating the women’s game

Ahmed Rizvi offers his thoughts on the ongoing gender argument in tennis.

The argument that female tennis players have no talent compared to their male counterparts falls flat when discussing Serena Williams. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images
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My apologies to Raymond Moore, but if I could borrow his quote, there are too many chauvinists and trolls riding on the coattails of his infamous comments, and they are doing an amazingly good job of bringing even greater ridicule to their tribe.

Seriously, what are they trying to achieve by telling Nicole Gibbs, a very vocal advocate of gender equality, things like “tennis skirts are the principal driver of revenue on the women’s tour”. And these are, as the American wrote in her last diary entry for the WTA website, not “a few isolated hate messages on Facebook or Twitter, that would be one thing”.

“Moments after Raymond Moore’s comments at Indian Wells a few weeks ago, I received messages from ATP players, goading me, asserting that Moore’s reasoning was sound,” Gibbs wrote.

“From average, high-school-aged male tennis players challenging me to matches because they’re sure they could never lose to a girl, to male coaches telling me, ‘In women’s tennis, you don’t even have to be talented to succeed’.”

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Really? Steffi Graf and Serena Williams have won all those grand slam titles without talent? Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert or Martina Hingis had no talent? And if no talent is needed to succeed in women’s tennis, then surely there is no need for coaching either. So why not shut-up shop? Or coach just male players?

Sure, we do not need this debate, which has been at the forefront in this battle for equality and, as Roger Federer rightly pointed out, has “produced some of the greatest female athletes in the world”.

We should be celebrating this fact. Instead, we talk about women not playing five sets like the men at the grand slams. Those are just four tournaments in a year and, in any case, it is not the women’s decision not to play five sets. Besides, do we pay according to the length of the movie when go the cinema?

Then we hear that other argument about fans. True, men’s tennis generally attracts far greater audiences, but women’s finals are staged a day earlier at the grand slams and most seats are taken. In other sports, such as figure skating and gymnastics, men receive equal prize money, and I’m not sure if the majority of the audience has pays to watch them, truth be told.

So enough already with these lame arguments, and let us appreciate where the sport has reached, thanks to the untiring efforts of both men and women.

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