One In Eight Men Honestly Think They Could Beat Serena Williams In Tennis

Who are they and have they ever watched Tennis, at all?

Serena Williams

by Sofia Tindall |
Updated on

If the attitude towards women in sports acts as a wider metaphor for attitudes towards women in general: then, disappointingly, the past few weeks have proven that we have a LONG way to go.

Hot on the heels of Johanna Konta being forced last week to take down a male British journalist when he patronised her in front of a room full of reporters after her Wimbledon match (the footage was spotlighted as a major indicator of the problem with sexism in Tennis after Konta responded to the journalist asking her whether she planned to 'look at herself a little bit now' following a defeat by saying 'please don't patronize me'), a YouGov survey has shown that as many as one in eight men believe they could win a tennis point against Serena Williams if they were playing at 'their very best'. Yes, really!

Interesting, because - correct me if I'm wrong - but I think you'll agree that I don't think the same survey would find many men boasting that they could 'probably' win a Tennis point against Nadal or Federer, so what does this statistic really reveal? Basically, that in spite of everything: sexism is still a pervasive problem in attitudes towards women in sport.

2019 has, in many ways, been a pivotal year for women's sports - the Women's World Cup football finals pulled in a record 11.7 million viewers for England Vs USA in the semi finals, and this year's Wimbledon has seen the emergence of Cori 'Coco' Gauff, the - female - player to make history as the youngest competitor to make it to Wimbledon's main draw through qualifying at just 15 years old.

Sadly however, 2019 has also been a year that has shown us that attitudes towards female competitors could still do with a makeover. Including the rude and infantalising treatment of Johanna Konta in the post-match news conference last week - and in June, Charlie Hebdo printed a picture of female genitalia with a football in it, in an obvious misogynistic slur on the Women's World Cup. It's left most of us (normal) people shaking our heads and wondering how we could be so close, and yet so far from treating female sports players as equal to their male counterparts.

The poll, which was taken by 1,732 adults in the UK asked respondents 'Do you think if you were playing your very best tennis, you could win a point off Serena Williams?'. Given she's racked up an estimated $25 million in sponsorships you would probably have to be pretty arrogant to assume that even if you were more on form than the Duracell bunny that day Williams would beat you on the Tennis court. She also - incidentally - has a 119mph serve and holds the record for the most WTA finals wins - 72 to just 20 losses. Yet 12% of men responded with 'I think I could' vs. 3% of women.

I think, for the sake of amusement, we'd all like to see that 12% take on Serena Williams - if only for what we expect would be a good laugh and a lesson in challenging the Tennis powerhouse that is a woman of Williams genes. Somebody pass the popcorn and lets make this happen...

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