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Both Sides Of The Net

Jan 6, 2008
Equality is one of those mythic ideas that we talk so much about but never really achieve. The Constitution of the United States may assert that all men are created equal however women, particularly in the arena of sports, are left out in the cold. Gender inequality has plagued professional sports since its inception; some sports such as baseball, hockey and auto racing do not even to attempt to include women at any level in their professional game play.

Other sports such as golf and basketball create leagues for women that exist with a different set of rules, sponsors and economic prosperity than the men. However tennis has been an open and leading sport in terms of gender recognition and gender equality.

Equal pay for equal play

In 2007 Wimbledon joined the other three grand slams in paying out the same prize money for women as it did men, recognizing that inequality of pay between women's professional tennis and men's is a bad idea from a bygone age. The French Open had done so in 2006 and the American and Australian Open had paid the same for years. There are critics who claim that because women's tennis is best out of three games, and men's was best out of five that unequal pay was justified. Still professional tennis took a stand for gender equality and has not backed down. Paying equally allows all people who love the sport to cheer and feel pride in their players. Tennis proves equality is good for everyone.

Playing well together

One of the hallmarks of gender equality and tennis has always been the ability for the Women's Tennis Association and the Men's Tennis Association to play at the same tournaments, both in their singles competitions, doubles competitions and the groundbreaking mixed doubles where women and men play together to form a competitive set. By contrast, professional golf struggles to even let one female into their Masters competition and the WPGA is kept as a separate and noncompetitive entity. The WNBA also exists as its own entity with no interplay with men's basketball. By putting the genders together at grand slams tournaments, tennis invests in diversity and equality. They prove women's tennis and men's tennis can play at the same professional level and can enjoy space at the same venue.

See one see all

Perhaps more than any other sport, the women of tennis enjoy a higher level of sponsorship, deals and media coverage. While the WNBA has made significant progress with their players receiving endorsements and sponsorship deals, no other sport has lifted up women as much as professional tennis. Whether it's selling tennis shoes, creating clinics for students or being interviewed or asked to commentate, women tennis players both on and off the court are treated with a measure of respect and allowed to be multimillion dollar participators in their sport, just like men.

It doesn't take a genius to see that women and men are different and play games differently. However professional tennis has been a stunning leader in the understanding that while they may be different it does not mean one is less.
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