Tennis

Australian Open raises key issues around women's tennis in opening week

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Before I go any further, I think it has to be said that tennis has done a fantastic job in ensuring that the women's game is on an equal footing to the male equivalent.

With some sports... actually, scratch that... in a lot of sports, the divide between the men and women is huge. However, tennis has done a marvellous job in ensuring that is not the case - rightly so.

EQUALITY

The simple fact is that as many people who watch Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and co, also watch the likes of Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams - just look at their followings on social media.

Some may argue that women should not be paid as much in prize money because they do not play matches as long as the men at the Grand Slam tournaments. But let's be honest, in today's spectrum, scheduling has nothing to do with that. The crowd numbers are the same, the sponsors are the same and the enjoyment is just the same - equal pay is right. 

So we have equal pay - brilliant. However, this Australian Open has thrown up some talking points and controversy when it comes to the women's game.

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TWIRL-FURY

Let's start with the most recent and controversial issue. Patronising, embarrassing, cringey, lewd, disgusting; those are some of the words you could use, and have indeed been used to describe an Australian commentator's 'give us a twirl' comment towards Eugenie Bouchard.

You have to feel for the young Canadian player; last year she was asked about an apparent crush over Justin Bieber - and now this.

You wouldn't hear Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Federer or Nadal asked about this. Just because Bouchard is an outgoing and pretty young woman, it doesn't make it right for her to be categorised like a TOWIE cast-off in the Daily Mail showbiz section.

Unlike some of those 'celebrities', male and female, she is a serious professional and deserves to be treated as such. 

CHANGE

Thankfully, one would now hope that the message has got through - this type of question will no longer be asked. The sheer strength of response around this will hopefully make people aware. 

Now, onto the second point. Periods and the story about Heather Watson's early exit from the US Open.

It's a shock to most men to hear a story associated with sporting news and periods. You just never hear about it, but why is that? It is one of the most natural occurrences of the human body and, although I have never had one and can't comment fairly, it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. That certainly has to be the sort of thing that would inhibit a sportswoman's game, surely?

TABOO

The fact that Watson has come out and been honest on this matter is delightfully refreshing. As many on a recent BBC radio broadcast pointed out, it is another taboo that has now been broken.

I'm not exactly sure how the matter can be progressed entirely, but the fact that people can now be aware of the issues faced by woman in elite sport; that has to be a positive thing. 

The Australian Open, despite some challenging moments, will have, in the long run, made women's tennis stronger than it already was. 

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Australian Open
Tennis

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