Jul
07

The Evolution of Women’s Tennis

There is a debate concerning women’s professional basketball. Many believe the WNBA will not survive because the organization does not have the same sponsorship or financial backing as the NBA. Many think the women do not have the athleticism to play at the same level as male professional basketball players. Therefore, women’s professional basketball is not as entertaining as men and will not flourish. Most importantly, women basketball players can not secure endorsement deals and they are not marketable.

Since tennis is one of my favorite sports, I decided it would be nice to focus on another sport people doubted women could make money playing via endorsements, receive the same or equal pay as the men, and establish a following of fans and support.

Just like the WNBA, women’s tennis has not lacked talented and gifted players. Women professional tennis players continue to test society’s theories and perceptions regarding women professional athletes. They are attractive, powerful, mentally strong, athletic, and marketable. Women’s tennis has progressed tremendously throughout the last three decades. In the early seventies, Billie Jean King became the most dominant female tennis player, and she remains one of the most elite athletes of all times. She is the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and Women’s Sports Foundation.  King won 12 Grand Slam singles titles and 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles during her career. Following behind Billie Jean King is Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert-Lloyd, and Steffi Graf.

I can remember celebrating the accomplishments of Althea Gibson, watching Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert-Lloyd, Steffi Graf, and Monica Seles. The early 80’s to late 90’s brought a new generation of ladies into the spotlight such as Zina Garrison, Gabriella Sabatini, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, and the Williams sisters.

Let us fast forward to the 21st century. The WTA has the financial support, via sponsorships and lucrative television contracts, to showcase the talents of some of the most revered athletes in the world.  Today, many of the women on the tour are capable of securing sponsorships for training and endorsement deals upon competing in, and winning, grand slams. Initially, women on the tour circuit did not make as much money compared to the men. Today, the prize money at grand slam tournaments is equal for men and women.

The development and evolution of women’s professional tennis players is a testament that women in professional sports are popular figures in society. Women can achieve the same or higher level of success in the professional sports arena. Whether it is endorsements, sponsorship, marketing, or fan support, women professional athletes are capable of appealing to and attracting fans to increase profits and revenue.

  • http://www.sweetspotgolfclubs.com Brian Allman

    I find it very interesting that to date no comments have been added to your post, it’s a very topical subject and I think spot on in regard to the commercial value of women athletes. I’ve never quite understood the pay inequities of men vs. women in sports but when sponsors finally see the light that women control 86% of all purchase decisions it seems like the rules of sponsorship engagement and player purses will eventually equalize if not swing in the direction of women. I think your observation on the history of the economics of tennis are soon to be realized in the world of golf, have you seen the young women coming into this sport; they are talented, athletic, good looking, smart, accessible and certainly marketable. However, why is it taking so long for corporate America to notice, perhaps readers will have comments on that…

    • http://sportsagentblog.com T. Conswello Davis

      Hello Brian,

      Thank you for posting. As an agent advocate, I think we can change this perception by continuously showcasing our clients marketability. It is evident that women are “swinging the pendulum”. I think many corporations or companies know about the commercial value of women athletes, but are resistant to change due to the “established model” or structure that has been implemented for years.
      Yes, I know about women’s golf. They are right behind women’s tennis. It just a matter of time…