Thursday, May 31, 2018

Why Are Women's Tennis Matches 3 Sets?

Living in the Washington DC area, the Capitals-Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup Final is obviously the biggest story in the sports world. Game one of the NBA finals between Cleveland and Golden State begins on Thursday night. We're also only a few weeks away from the World Cup, and the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates just concluded a testy series. (Start around the 1:45 mark.)

With so much going on, it may be easy to forget that the French Open is occurring in Paris. Rafael Nadal seeks is unprecedented 11th French Open title, and this tournament features Serena Williams' first Grand Slam tournament since she gave birth to a baby girl last year. There are other storylines as well (Is Novak Djokovic 100%? Can Caroline Wozniacki win her second Grand Slam title of the year?), but that's not the point of this post. With the importance of gender equality, I wonder why women's matches continue to be only best-of-three sets while men's matches are best-of-five sets.

Let's look at other professional sports. Women's soccer matches are 90 minutes, the same as their male counterparts. I believe that LPGA major tournaments are four rounds just like the the PGA tournaments, and the number of rounds for a UFC match is the same regardless of gender. While WNBA quarters are 10 minutes compared to 12 minutes in the NBA, that's not a significant difference.

Meanwhile, women's tennis matches continue to be much shorter than men's matches. Why is that? Is it because that's how it's always been done? An argument that women aren't as fit as their male counterparts to be able to play five sets is absurd. I feel like the answer is always money, but why? Going back several years, would you have not watched a Steffi Graf-Monica Seles or a Martina Navratilova-Chris Evert final that was five sets instead of three? Any tennis fans or officials want to give their opinion on this?

Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

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