Women's tennis matches being limited to three sets is 'outdated and degrading', says Sunderland sports expert

Petra Kvitova. Picture by Adam Davy/PA Wire.
Petra Kvitova. Picture by Adam Davy/PA Wire.
0
Have your say

Women tennis players should play five-set matches at Wimbledon like the stars of the men's game because playing just three is degrading, a Sunderland academic has argued.

Dr Paul Davis, from Sunderland University said it is "indefensible" and "out-dated" to make the likes of Petra Kvitova and Johanna Konta play shorter matches than Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Sunderland University's Dr Paul Davis, who has argued that women tennis players should play five-set matches at Wimbledon like the stars of the men's game because playing just three is degrading.

Sunderland University's Dr Paul Davis, who has argued that women tennis players should play five-set matches at Wimbledon like the stars of the men's game because playing just three is degrading.

He and Lisa Edwards, a senior lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said the practice underlined false beliefs about women's physical limitations and outmoded ideals of femininity.

They argued that women play 90 minutes of football, 80 minutes of rugby, 18 holes of golf and run the same distance in a marathon as men.

A number of sports, such as tennis, road cycling, and some athletics events including cross country running in the North East, see women's competitions shortened, however.

In their paper, Is It Defensible For Women To Play Fewer Sets Than Men In Grand Slam Tennis?, which is due to be published later this year, they say three-set women's tennis also fuels the argument against equal prize money which women fought for so long to achieve.

It comes shortly after tennis legend John McEnroe said Serena Williams would be ranked "like 700 in the world" if she had to play on the men's circuit. He has since said he regretted the remark and said he was surprised by the controversy his comments ignited.

Dr Davis, who is chairman of the British Philosophy of Sport Association, said: "The Grand Slam sex-based sets disparity is a cultural tradition which degrades women, as it reinforces a false stereotype of female incapacity and, in turn, a fast-dying notion of femininity, which is starkly challenged by what women do on the tennis court and in other sports.

"It should be ended."

Dr Davis said change could also mean the end of the men's title being played after the women's, and argued that it should alternate from year to year.

He said staging the women's final first implied it was a "taster" for the main event played by men.

He did acknowledge that not all women players would be in favour of playing five sets, and Dr Davis, a philosopher and sociologist, recognised the place of tradition in sport.