Women tennis players seem to have a great deal compared to other sports. All Majors, since 2007, offer equal pay for men and women. However, top female players are still being judged on their looks and are the target of sexist comments and insults.
Maria Sharapova, for instance, has been characterized as too shriek and barbie-like and Amelie Mauresmo and Serena Williams for being too masculine. People are constantly criticizing the appearance of women instead of looking at their skills and abilities. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we label people. This labeling needs to stop! People need to stop categorizing others because of their jobs, looks, religion and/or race.
A recent incident of sexism happened on 2014 in a Russian television show where a tennis official referred to the Williams sisters as the Williams “brothers.”
“I was at the Olympics and saw Maria Sharapova play her … him …,” said Ivan Urgant, the host of nighttime show in Russia. “… One of the Williams brothers,” Shamil Tarpischev finished.
Shamil Tarpischev is the head of Russia’s Tennis Federation and the tournament director of the Kremlin Cup. After such a disrespectful and sexist comment Tarpischev was served with a $25,000 fine from the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association).
“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments. I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time,” Serena Williams said. “I thought they were in a way bullying.”
These kind of comments are not tolerated even if they are said “without any malice,” as the tennis official said. It’s an absolute insult not only to the Williams sisters but to every single woman out there that has a more masculine body. Even Maria Sharapova, former Russian world No.1 and a 5 time Grand Slam champion, who had a feud with Serena took her side in the matter and went against her former team captain in Federation Cup competition, Shamil Tarpischev.
“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA,” Maria said. “It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.”
And who is at fault for all of that? The Media of course has a great responsibility. If the media only promotes men’s tennis and in the newspaper out of the 5 pages only 1 refers to the women’s tennis, then they are not only disrespectful but also sexist. They don’t show enough women’s tennis on TV, creating less publicity for the sport and its rising stars. Women may have achieved something great with the equal prize money but this isn’t enough. They need to be given equal media coverage as well.
Gilles Simon, tennis player from France, was one of the few athletes to point out that the media is at fault. “You media are doing exactly the same. If I take the newspaper, I will see four pages on the men and one on the women, so that’s what you are saying,” he said.