Aryna Sabalenka Bold Statement that Might Hurt WTA’s Reputation

Aryna Sabalenka BNP Paribas Open

The talk around equal pay in tennis has been going on for a long time but the logic is straightforward to understand. Athletes are reimbursed based on how much they generate; thus, if you’re generating less than the men, you won’t earn as much. It’s as simple as that.

The Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Martina Hingis, and other female stars were instrumental in making women’s tennis more marketable and are a big reason for the big purses the current top players are getting.

Aryna Sabalenka is a top player, who has more knowledge about professional tennis than many of us. But her latest statement jeopardizes women’s efforts to establish equal pay or get more attendance at their matches.

Sabalenka says men’s tennis is more interesting than women’s

Aryna Sabalenka is in Madrid to defend the title she won last year. The world. No.2 said in a media interview: “I’m not someone who watches too much tennis, I prefer to watch men’s tennis rather than women’s tennis, I feel like there is more strategy and it’s more interesting to watch.”
Sabalenka has always been a bold woman who shares her honest views without fear. But sometimes honesty can do more harm than good and this instance qualifies for that. This isn’t something you would admit out loud. By admitting this, she is publicly disparaging herself and her tour. Even if she was being honest, she could have worded it differently.

How can the WTA argue for equal pay and equal treatment when their top player admits publicly that women’s tennis isn’t as entertaining? This statement from Sabalenka only harms the reputation of the tour.

Sabalenka is not wrong for preferring men’s tennis, but I believe you can support it without needing to undersell and compare it unfavourably with women’s tennis. Especially when you make a living off of it. She is a top player and her job is to promote and support the WTA tour. Not to make self-deprecating comments that only further delegitimize it.

The hardest thing for a sport to do is keep drawing in new fans, and these remarks from a world-class player would only put off someone who has never watched a tennis match. Aryna Sabalenka is an excellent player, but she must learn to keep certain things to herself for the greater good.

Main Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports


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