Why women's tennis is a minor sport - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Why women's tennis is a minor sport

Women's tennis is a (very) minor sport.

I got to thinking about why that was. One think that jumps out is, women's tennis is virtually the only sport with a long history that denigrates, rather than celebrates, it's old time champions.

Few in boxing ever argue that Rocky Marciano's wins weren't worth as much as Mike Tyson's. Names like Schmelling, Graziano and Corbett still resonate in boxing circles.

Few in figure skating argue Peggy Fleming's titles aren't as significant as Katerina Witt's.

In baseball, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb played in eras where a lot of the best players weren't even allowed into the major leagues, just because they were Black. Yet no one suggests that Ruth's home run numbers don't count. No one says Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson's records were accomplished aganst inferior competition. They have too much respect for the sport.

In football, names like Ernie Nevers and Jim Thorpe are still revered.

Juan Manuel Fangio (the first) is not considered second rate compared to Michael Schumacher

In men's tennis, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Pancho Gonzalez, to name a few, are still respected for what they accomplished. I've never heard anyone suggest that Andre Agassi was superior to Rod Laver. If you know the history of the sport, the idea is ludicrous.

But ah, women's tennis.

Compare Margaret Court Smith to Steffi Graf and you get a very different reaction than to the Agassi-Laver comparison.

Roy Emerson still means a lot to fans of men's tennis. Maria Bueno is lost in the mists of time to fans of women's tennis.

If I ask, who was more talented, Hana Mandlikova or Justine Henin-Hardenne, the response will mostly be blank stares. (Well, I'm testing that even as we speak.)

If the fans of a sport have little or no respect for it's history and past champions, I thin it unlikely that sport will sustain popularity. So when we wonder why women's tennis can't get coverage, it isn't all bad marketing. In many ways, television shows the same level of respect for women's tennis that we fans do. We're fans of individual players. We SAY we're fans of the sport. But we certainly don't accord our past champions the respect they do in other sports.

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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thoughts and reactions are, as always, accepted in the same spirit they are offered.

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Not blind. Not uninformed. We are party to atrocities. But the response of the world after 9/11 is worth noting. Even our most dire enemies offered aid. We should all be so lucky.
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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 03:13 PM
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Then I will post it here
I had an arguement once about the fact if Novotna was a great player or not. I said yes because it's really hard to win a slam, but the other person disagreed. I think there is a problem too
people think you are only great when you won 20 slams

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of the truth
To the river so deep
We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We're all carried along
By the river of dreams
In the middle of the night
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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 03:20 PM
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I agree with Volcana's point, but it is up to those in charge of women's tennis to have made more of their previous champions legacy, it's the WTA or former WITA who have undersold a lot of the previous players. However, I disagree with the notion it is a very minor sport. Are there any other women's sports with comparable paychecks and big name global stars? In terms of women's sport, tennis is huge.


Irma's point is a good one too - how many "greats" can there be in any one era? I'd argue one or two greats and a couple of extremely good players. Since the early '80s until now I'd only categorize Navratilova, Evert, Graf & Seles as "greats". I think with a bit more activity Serena is almost there too. Venus and Henin have that route open to them too as they are both still young enough to start getting a very impressive tally of slam titles
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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 03:23 PM
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actually, i'd say that women's tennis is the most popular women's sport in the world right now. now if only espn would get the memo...

ugh, why do they all suck????????
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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 03:28 PM
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Excellent post, Mount Whatever-the-fuck-they-name-after-you! Of course re. Margaret Court, 11 of her 24 Slams were in Oz, in an era when the prize money didn't motivate too many top players to make that loooonnnngggg trip, a sort of "asterisk".

And the "one third or so" in general that female tennis players got B4 the 70's (women's tour, the silly-but-popular "Battle of the Sexes" between Riggs and King, America's Sweetheart Chrissie, then her rivalry with the great Martina I ) didn't encourage much promotion.

Then They completed the marketing puzzle by deciding that Sex Sells, and the legends of babes like Darling Carling Bassett and Gabby Sabatini was born. (Sorry, Annaholics, she was NOT the first 2B so marketed )!
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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 03:53 PM
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The 'lack of respect' to former champions is most harmfully manifest in the constant reiteration that today's top players would have no problems beating them - how many times have we heard that Serena, for example, would be too strong for Lenglen/Court/Navratilova and is therefore better than them? She almost certainly could beat them, but the second point doesn't necessarily follow and is irrelevant in any case.

The thing is, when the women's prime selling point is characters as opposed to games, it's inevitable that you'll attract short term 'player' fans, as opposed to tennis fans... and those player fans will seek to denigrate all the players they don't support in order to build up their idol, and this includes past champions.
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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 05:42 PM
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sport is a process of evolution. Had Serena been born in the 1960's/50's should would not be the player she is today.
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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 05:55 PM
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the problem with women's tennis currently, is that loadsa people expect too much drama AND results.if u notice the sports greats (ladies tennis) only those with the slams combined with drama are remembered.

steffi: just for being steffi, peter graf...
monica: the stabbing
the sisters: two black girls kicking ass in a predominantly white sport.
martina navratilova: she was a lesbian
hingis: girls middle name was drama
chris evert: one of the best americans.

other slam winners are not recognized by many such as ASV, mandlikova novotna, pierce, sabatini, majoli...they didnt have a popular story to tell.

in margaret courts case, people dont give her much credit simply cuz she won everything. it was an automatic assumption that there was no competition.

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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 05:57 PM
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and besides, the whole sex-sells bit is true. womens tennis suddenly surged with the emergence of anna k, the sisters, hingis...all at the same time. the thing is that because there's not much sex to sell (current hotties have become mundane) the sport is being ignored.

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post #11 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VCR
in margaret courts case, people dont give her much credit simply cuz she won everything. it was an automatic assumption that there was no competition.
also the woman has completely flipped, her opinions are so far from being pc, it's an embarrasment to publicise her. sorry to any court fans, great champ and everything, but she's a wacko.
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post #12 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by croat123
actually, i'd say that women's tennis is the most popular women's sport in the world right now.
Totally agree ! If tennis isn't a "major" women's sport, which sport is then ?

Maybe the thread-starter is a little biased and has this feeling because of the injuries of her/his faves, which is again totally understandable


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post #13 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 06:04 PM
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I disagree. I don't think that it is a lack of historical knowledge of the women's tour that is hindering the sport in the present. That doesn't seem logical to me. The real problems are too many injuries for top players (even more than on the men's tour these days!) and some bad product (i.e. the entire women's Australian Open).
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post #14 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 06:30 PM
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The modern racquets allow Power Players to just pound it from the basline too much, IMO, thus virtually killing off the risky but exciting serve & volley game. (OMG, Chrissie might Have Had the edge on Martina I)! BTW, re. "what other female sport..."? Ask Annika!
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post #15 of 44 (permalink) Old Feb 7th, 2004, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paellapan
Totally agree ! If tennis isn't a "major" women's sport, which sport is then ?
I never said tennis wasn't a majot sport among women's sports. Among ALL sports it's a minor sport. In the seventies and early eighties, that it was a lot higher up the pantheon of sport in popularity, at least in the USA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paellapan
Maybe the thread-starter is a little biased and has this feeling because of the injuries of her/his faves
Well, that was an incredibly stupid comment. Insulting too. Well, I suppose it was deliberately intended to be insulting. So please go take a walk in the middle of the autobahn.

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