I learned a lot from watching Wimbledon last week. Definitely sexism is still running rampant in the coverage of women’s tennis and women’s sports in general. Valid questions concerning a possible injury and subsequent brace on Venus Williams’ leg were over-shadowed by complaints about the women players in general “grunting” while hitting their shots.
Stupid articles were written rather than real tennis getting covered. People went so far as to measure decibel levels, but only the Portuguese 16-year-old Michelle Larcher de Brito was asked about her “noise level” after her match. Truth be told, Maria Sharapova was louder in Court #1, but no one had the audacity to ask an established WTA star such an asinine question.
Officials admitted that women were chosen for Centre Court matches based on how “hot” their bodies were, not how “hot” their serve was. And the Williams sisters had to swallow the insult of playing on courts 1 and 2. As was expected those two made it to the finals with the younger sister (Serena) beating out the older (Venus), but no one would have stood for Andy Roddick or Roger Federer to be escorted anywhere but Centre Court. Serena and Venus also won their doubles tournament against the Aussies, and then of course the men played.
I loved reading all the comments and banter on the Shewired Wimbledon Sexism post and second one commenter’s idea for alternating the women's and men's tourneys so that one year the women finish Wimbledon and the next year the men. Why do they always set up the women’s finals as a pre-show for the men’s? The women do get the same cash prize (trophy is still smaller) and Wimbledon finally dropped the “Miss and Mrs.” from the scoreboard this year, citing a desire to more toward a more modern game…hmm…progress?
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It’s a mixed bag and I have to admit, part of me wonders if the means justifies the end…of course, that end being more valid coverage for women’s sports. It was Martin Luther King, Jr. that said, “The arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Hopefully more and more people will enjoy watching women athletes and demand they be given equal honor, pay and coverage.
Here are a few of the women of Wimbledon 2009: