Monday, June 25, 2007

Wimbledon is on the Right Track

One of the big stories being bandied about by ESPN during their coverage of Wimbledon on opening day so far has been the fact that the All England Club has, for the first time ever, decided to award equal pay to both men's and women's players. Let me begin by saying that I am all for this change and am surprised it took this long for it to happen.

Sorry, Roger, but you are just too good.
From a strict popularity basis, it's long overdue. For the past four years or so the ATP has been absolutely pulverized, clay court matches nonwithstanding, by a one-man wrecking crew known as Roger Federer. It seems a bit counter-intuitive as dynasties usually bring more attention to sports due to their polarizing nature, but that hasn't been the case with Federer. One reason may be that Federer is too dominant; he has won 79% of his tournament finals appearances ever and since 2004, the year in which he assumed the world #1 ranking, he is 277-20 in singles matches. That's 93 freaking percent. After a while it gets boring to keep watching the same guy win. Tiger Woods doesn't even finish in the top five 93% of the time.

Federer also fails to be polarizing (read: interesting) because he's not really a charismatic guy. Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Agassi, Sampras... these guys were all charismatic in that they were either likable or outrageous -- whatever you want to call it, they got you to watch. While Federer is buddies with Tiger, it'd be more appropriate if he were friends with Vijay Singh granted his demeanor (that is, if Vijay ever won anything anymore... but why let facts get in the way of a fun analogy?).

I digress. (Shock!)

You say you wouldn't want to see two more sets per match of Ana Ivanovic? I say you're a liar.

The women's side, on the other hand, is constantly filled with story lines and intrigue. From tournament to tournament you never know who is going to win. Will it be Serena Williams? Venus Williams? Maria Sharapova? Justine Henin? Amelie Mauresmo? Martina Hingis? Ana Ivanovic? (Oh please, God, let it be Ana Ivanovic.) Real competition, interesting marketable personalities, aesthetics... there are a million reasons why more people are watching the ladies (Dot-dot-dot? No? Okay.) swing the racket than the fellas. However you want to quantify it, the surging popularity of the WTA--particularly in Grand Slams--has more than earned the women equal pay during the last fortnight of June.

Honestly, though, I don't think that Wimbledon--or any other Grand Slam for that matter--should stop there. I think that not only should the women be given equal pay, I think they should be given equal time. That's right, sports fans, I think the women should play best-of-five-set matches. Think about it:
  • The TV networks get more sustained ratings for their tennis broadcasts
  • The women get further credibility for their claim that their game is just as good as the men's
  • The men get solace from the fact the women will have to work just as hard as they do for the money
  • The tournaments get fewer upsets with 5-set matches, ensuring the best players matched up in the later rounds
  • I get another hour-plus of tennis the next time there's a Sharapova-Ivanovic match
Everybody wins!!

I'm telling you it's the next logical step in the evolution of tennis, people!


Michael Beckwith said...


It is currently the name I've been looking for on a cover of Maxim or Stuff every time I buy beer out here on the West Side. Just thought I'd share that one...

Ghost of Carl Monday said...

seriously...where did this broad come from?