Quality over quantity

Tennis is a sport of skill. It is not a sport where the winner is decided based on the quantity of games they play.

Tennis tests a player’s physical capabilities as well as their mental strength.

Tennis is not a first past the post affair.

Tennis does not always reward those who’ve played the longest, toughest matches. In fact, it often favours those who’ve efficiently played their way through the tournament.

For each tennis player, how they feel on a particular day and just how kind a draw they’ve received can influence their progress to the next round or their progress to the nearest airport.

Sometimes tennis can offer lucky escapes for players and give them the chance to regroup and fight another day, even if their previous wins can be more easily attributed to a lucky bounce or two or an opponent more intent on hitting self destruct, rather than the fluoro yellow ball.

With so many factors influencing and impacting on the score line it’s clear that the only way to pay those who make their living travelling the international tennis circuit is fairly and evenly and that means supporting equal pay between the men’s and women’s competitions at Grand Slam events, and for that matter at any other event where men’s and women’s competitions are running concurrently.

Cue the moans from those who love to argue that women don’t deserve equal pay at Grand Slams because they only play best of three sets, not best of fives.

I wonder if these people have ever stopped to hear themselves. Are they aware of just how sexist they are or do they truly believe that women do not make valuable contributions to society and should probably stay indoors, tethered between the stovetop and the ironing board?

For those of you who mount the women should have to play best of five sets in order to qualify for equal prize money I wonder if you even watch the sport?

Are you aware that the women’s game is filled with its own nuances and is played quite differently to the men’s, hence service games are not relied upon in the same way as men’s tennis, as an example?

Has it ever occurred to you that these women spend the same amount of time in the gym, training and preparing, as there male counterparts and that alone is reason enough for them to be given equal pay?

There is of course a glaring and fundamental flaw with the argument that if women want equal prize money then they should also play best of five sets and that flaw has been drawn out in the opening paragraphs of this article.

Tennis is a sport whose outcome is influenced by many factors and it is a sport of quality over quantity.

Let’s flip the quantity argument, as I like to call it, on its head.

If prize money in tennis should be calculated by who many sets or games a player plays, and this is essentially what those arguing against equal prize money are advocating, then that should be applied across the board. Right?

So, looking at the men’s draw so far in this year’s Wimbledon, it is clear that the final should be contested by Novak Djokovic who has played 18 sets, 173 games and 4 tiebreakers and Milos Raonic who has played 17 sets, 176 games and 5 tiebreakers.

Dimitrov has played 17 sets, 164 games and 4 tiebreakers and he should be put into some kind of third place showdown with Roger Federer who has only played a poultry 16 sets, 147 games and 1 tiebreak. In fact with stats like that in this system of rewarding tennis players the Swiss maestro would go from GOAT to chump.

Naturally the women should have wrapped up their competition by not bothering to enter because obviously this type of tennis regime requires us to see women as second class citizens who if they can’t play best of five just shouldn’t bother turning up.

To break the final four women’s results down in the same way as the men, we see the following.

Eugenie Bouchard has played 10 sets, 106 games and 1 tiebreaker. She’s played the most games of the final four women but fewer sets.

Petra Kvitova has played 11 sets, 102 games and 1 tiebreak. Lucie Safarova has played 10 sets, 99 games and no tiebreak and Simona Halep has played 11 sets, 93 games and no tiebreak.

If we’re going to suggest that she who has played the most sets plays for the title then we should see Kvitova play off against Halep.

Is this even tennis? Tennis based on a formula of quantity over quality makes for a convoluted scoring system that has little to do with tennis talent.

Fans of equal pay for women athletes have a lot to cheer about when watching Grand Slam tennis. There is no doubt that there is still a way to go, evidenced by those pesky voices that continue to criticise equal pay for equal work, but compared to a lot of other sports, tennis is trail blazing ahead.

Let’s not drop the ball on why we have equal prize money in Grand Slam tennis.

These are the best female tennis players in the world and like the best male tennis players in the world, they have earned every last penny of their equal prize money.




*Note, this was written prior to the women’s semi-final results.


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