It’s really turning into quite the impressive springtime for ridiculous sexism, women and sports division. Even as female athletes are enjoying unprecedented triumphs in their fields, the knee-jerk assumptions about masculine superiority just keep rearing their heads, dumber and uglier than ever. Let’s catch up.
Last month, Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore wryly observed that “In my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA, because they ride on the coattails of the men. They don’t make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very, very lucky. If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have.” Then top-ranked Novak Djokovic jumped in to the fray, noting, “I think that our men’s tennis world, ATP world, should fight for more because the stats are showing that we have much more spectators on the men’s tennis matches. I think that’s one of the, you know, reasons why maybe we should get awarded more.”
As one might expect, lucky lady players didn’t see it quite that way. Serena Williams, a lady lucky enough to win more grand slams than Federer or Nadal, shot back that “We, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.” Moore apologized and stepped down from his post soon after. Yet the hits keep coming.
Writing in her Insider Diaries series this week on the WTA site, player Nicole Gibbs discussed the sexism she’s seen firsthand. “As a female athlete, it can sometimes feel like I have to put up a fight for basic respect,” she wrote. “For me, being told that what I am doing is second class is second nature. Moments after Raymond Moore’s comments at Indian Wells a few weeks ago, I received messages from ATP players, goading me, asserting that Moore’s reasoning was sound. I have had countless individuals, men and women alike, suggest to me that tennis skirts are the principle driver of revenue on the women’s tour. From average, high school aged male tennis players challenging me to matches because they’re sure they could never lose to a girl, to male coaches telling me, ‘In women’s tennis, you don’t even have to be talented to succeed.’” But she added, “In the meantime, Billie Jean King tells me that I have a platform, so I plan to use it.” […]