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Sexism in the Tennis World: Very Problematic Despite Past Improvements

Alize Cornet, French tennis player, was penalized on account of unsportsmanlike conduct at the 2018 U.S. Open. Cornet has just returned to the court in fresh clothing following a 10 minute heat break when she realized her shirt was on backwards. According to Scott Gleeson’s article in USA  Today, She quickly removed her top for all of 15 seconds to put it on the right way when she was penalized.

Not long after, Rafael Nadal removed his shirt after his match—something he does after every match—and cruised off the court. No penalty was given for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Gleeson went on to say that the U.S. Open issued an apology for the issue of a code violation and stated “All players (men’s and women’s) can change their shirts…This is not considered a code violation.”

Perhaps the most significant contributor to gender equality in the USLTA (United States Lawn Tennis Association) was Billie Jean King. The American tennis pro, in opposition to the blatant sexism that existed in the U.S., started an exclusive women’s tour in efforts to gain national support and money.

Aside from the tour, she set up her own tournament that would take place at the exact time as the Pacific Southwest tournament in which the men were to be paid nearly eight times what the women would make. Kings biggest rival, and extreme chauvinist, Bobby Riggs was well-known as the best male tennis player in the U.S.

In an event best known as the “Battle Of The Sexes,” King and Riggs went head to head in the 1973 tennis match. King ultimately defeated bobby further proving that women belong on the same exact playing field, and wage, as every man in the USTLA.

Though Billie Jean made a major impact in the world of tennis in the late 1900’s, there is still major stipulation over the level of gender equality that exists in tournaments and associations such as the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the USTA.

We would be foolish to deny that progress has been made as far as sexism goes in the tennis world. However, we would be even more foolish to deny that sexism is still a major issue among all tennis associations.

 

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