What's the issue with women's tennis?

Why is women’s tennis at such a low in quality these days? When the BBC broadcaster made his comments about Bartolis looks, I did think that while comments themselves were ill judged, looks of the players, not quality of play is the main selling point these days.

This was not always the case. Graf, Navratilova, ASV, Seles, Hingis etc all played tennis at high quality.

Why the issues today.

Tennis is of a much higher quality today than it ever was. Quality play can be boring to watch, with lots of baseline volleys, but that’s true in the men’s game as well.

The women’s game today is about on a par with the men’s game in the mid-Seventies.

Women’s tennis then was absolutely PITIFUL. If you don’t believe me, then next time there’s a rain delay at WImbledon, watch that allegedly “classic” match between Billie Jean King and Margaret Court. Women’s tennis then was a snoozer! They were weak and slow.

I still don’t care to watch women’s tennis most of the time, but the game is MUCH better today. Sharapova or Serena would mop the floor with Chris Evert or Martina Navratilkova.

If that’s true, it’s a matter of marketing, not the quality of the players. Serena Williams is incredible and she’s probably enough to disprove your theory on her own.

Serena won her first slam in 1999. She is still do dominating the game. Tell me how many men’s players won their first slam in 1999? Her dominance speaks volumes about the lack of depth in the game.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess a lack of Kournikova bouncing around.

Dominating? Maybe. But if this is your argument, Graf and Navratilova were even more dominant, which must mean there was even less depth back then. I actually do think there was much less depth when both of them played, particularly Navratilova.

I agree with those that say women’s tennis is way better now. That doesn’t necessarily translate to better ratings, more entertainment, or more success of the sport. Better tennis also won’t guaranty that they market based on the tennis rather than the looks of the players.

Serena hasn’t dominated the sport that whole time, though. For example you seem to have overlooked the careers of Justine Henin and Venus Williams. Serena has generally been the best player over that long period when she has been healthy, but for long stretches she hasn’t been healthy and in others she hasn’t been that engaged. She’s missed a fair amount of time and her last absence was not that long ago.

I’m not the first one to point this out, but it’s odd that people use Serena to complain about a lack of depth on the women’s side and celebrate the men’s game when four men have won every single major (except one) for the last eight years, and for a pretty long stretch there it was two guys winning all the Slams. Roger Federer won his first slam in 2003 and Rafael Nadal won his first in 2005, by the way, and that’s also a pretty long time. And it’s historic for such a small group of people to win every major over such a prolonged period. But somehow that’s only a comment on the excellence of the top players and not a knock on the depth of the field while Serena’s success isn’t about her excellence, it’s about a lack of depth.

I’ve made the point elsewhere but it bears repeating.

The womens game just isn’t dynamic enough for me. They seems to be in slow motion, even the uber-powerful Williams sisters. Technically they aren’t as good. Not as accurate, not as fast, not as fit.
The lack of depth certainly is a problem in that, when Serena is on top of her game she crushes her opponents in 45 minutes and when she isn’t then I may be cheering on an underdog in a technically dreadful match…where’s the fun in that? And a top-form Serena would still get triple-bagled by any top 100 man.

The ladies final at Wimbledon was an embarrassment. The men’s final was superb. I understand why they feel they have to pay the women the same but honestly, left to market forces alone that would not be the case.

These are market forces.

My only beef with paying them the same is that they aren’t playing as many sets. So, on a per-game basis, the women are actually making more.

The only response I can think of to that is “who cares?” They’re not paid based on the number of sets they play. You get paid based on how far you go in the tournament. It doesn’t matter if you play for 11 hours and lose, get double-bageled, or if you withdraw because of injury or illness without playing a point.

Tennis, like all sports, is show business. And in show business, people don’t get paid the same amount for doing the “same” job. They get paid based on the paying crowds they attract.

So, I think it’s silly to say “Serena Williams should get paid the same as Andy Murray because she does the same job.” Heck, a community theater actor is doing the same job as Bruce Willis, a cocktail lounge singer is doing the same job as Katy Perry, and a minor league pitcher is doing the same job as Justin Verlander. It doesn’t follow that they deserve the same pay.

If women’s tennis draws the same crowds as men’s tennis, for the same ticket prices, THEN women should be paid as much. If they sell MORE tickets, they should be paid more. This is about economics, not equality or fairness.

And that’s a fine rebuttal, I guess. Although, what they are really getting paid for is bringing in a TV audience, and the men’s game creates more air time for commercials by playing more sets.

Not really, more cultural and PR forces.

A purely market-driven purse for the women wouldn’t be as high because the demand is lower. People are willing to pay more for tickets to the men, advertisers pay more. If it were purely a function of the revenue generated then no, the women would not get as much.

Do you have some kind of a cite to back that up? Tickets for men’s and women’s matches aren’t sold separately. Advertisers seem plenty interested in Maria Sharapova and the Williamses have done their share of ad campaigns. If we were really breaking it down by those kinds of market forces, the players wouldn’t get paid on the basis of gender at all. The top players would get a lot and the rest would get nothing. I don’t think the broader public is any more interested in the 100th-ranked guy (that’d be Lukas Lacko) than they are in the #100 woman (Flavia Pennetta).

Oddly enough, for me, tennis is the only sport I could think of where I actually prefer the women’s game. And, no, it has nothing to do with being a heterosexual male–I just prefer the pace of the game, although I suspect I may be in the minority there. This has been true ever since the days of Navratilova and Evert, although I did thoroughly enjoy the McEnroe-Lendl years.

Neither is March Madness compared to the NBA, but plenty of people watch both. Sports is show business - in many cases the story lines are more important than the product on the court.

There was a period not so long ago when I sort of agreed with you- at Wimbledon, it was much more fun to watch the women because they actually had prolonged points and rallies. The men’s finals, too often, had a couple of 7 foot Serbians firing 200 mph aces at each other.

But in the FEderer-Nadal era, the men’s game has been both faster and more fun to watch than the women’s game.

Never happened. Before Federer and Nadal came along, Pete Sampras won Wimbledon seven times in eight years. In between them the winners were Goran Ivanesevic (who served and volleyed but sorta fits your description) and Lleyton Hewitt. If we go back before that, you’re dismissing guys like Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg.