Sunday, 12 June 2011

The State Of Women's.... Tennis

What a joke... No depth... No great rivalry... Right? Wrong! 

Women's tennis is no joke, it is the GREATEST sport to be involved in as a female athlete, with the potential to earn millions and go on to any one of many different careers. The WTA say it best, 'the leading global sport for women'. It requires strength, endurance, speed, mental toughness, skill, dedication and a lot of heart. Top female tennis players are ELITE athletes. If its a joke then women shouldn't bother competing in any sport professionally. 

I don't think anyone can deny that the depth of women's tennis is improving all the time. Particularly looking between 50 and 250 the standard of competition is far better than that of 7 years ago when I began playing. The tournaments are tougher to get into in the first place (you can check that) and there are far more women playing to a high standard. I have yet to meet anyone with decent knowledge of the WTA tour who thinks differently. 

No rivalry at the top? List all the players who have won wimbledon in the last 10 years... Williams, Williams... Oh yeah Mauresmo and Sharapova.  Mens?  Federer, Nadal... Oh yeah Hewitt and Ivanisevic. See where I'm going? Ok yes, Williams, Williams and Clijsters are out at the moment and Henin has just retired... But if you take out Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray due to injury you would be having the same discussion about men's tennis. 

People talk about 'ridiculous girls scorelines' ie. 6-0 6-1 or 6-4 1-6 6-1.  Is this because women are more 'emotional'?  No. Its because without the luxury of a 130mph serve to flick in at our leisure to break momentum, the points are more neutral. This means we have to work harder to win points so differences in standard will be reflected in the score more obviously. If you took away the serve from the men I bet they would have similar scorelines more often.  

The majority of people who comment on 'the state of women's tennis' are men and they have a pop at us because we are an easy target. Yes, of course we are not able to reach the physical levels of men, and therefore we cannot reach the same standard of tennis as them. That does not mean we don't work as hard or aren't as talented. I would go as far as to say we work harder because we don't have the physical strength like them to rely on. 

The Williams' are, to be honest, in a different league to the other girls on tour physically, which is a major factor in their dominance over the last decade. Its not fair to complain about the standard of tennis which is just as brilliant as the men's and actually more interesting a lot of the time as we aren't banging down aces every other point. 

Ultimately the moaning and frustrations come down to the fact that we can't do what the men do physically.  Well obviously!  Science tells us this.  

Caroline is the number one female player in the world at only 20 but she is criticised for not holding a slam title, as other number one's have been.  Hmm... I think someone should tell Paula Radcliffe that her career has been a waste of time because she hasn't won an Olympic Gold yet. It doesn't make her any less great, and she has still been the best marathon runner in the world for the most part of her career. 

People have talked about Serena possibly coming back and winning Wimbledon, causing embarrassment to the women's game. First of all... Its Serena. Second of all... its Serena! Her physical strength is above any other player, and she also has inspiring fight and heart to go with that.  What does that result in?... A 13 time Grand Slam champion. I would have actually put money on Fed to win Wimby if he was in the same position a few years ago, considering he is one of (if not the) greatest male players of all time.  So why is it so embarrassing to consider one of the greatest female tennis players of all time to do the same? 

I wrote this because I am fed up of people who follow MEN'S tennis all year voicing opinions on the women's game which they know little about. 

Discussion and debate is healthy and great for the sport, but all I ask is that you get your facts straight before voicing it to the nation. I think its pretty lazy to keep having a pop at women's tennis, and we don't deserve it. We already don't get paid as much as the men, so give us a break! 

I love tennis, men's and women's, and I am so looking forward to Wimbledon. The greatest tournament of the year, in London... Well... You just can't beat it.