By Melina Harris
An exciting new proposal to introduce the first ever World Cup to the already packed tennis calendar (replacing the outdated Davis Cup format) has one glaring fault as far as I’m concerned; it’s men only and there has been no mention of a female equivalent. According to the Times of London Tennis Correspondent Neil Harman on Wednesday, “although the idea for a World Cup is in its formative stages, it has already been presented to leading tennis administrators and television executives, who believe that a men-only competition would attract a larger audience.” Who are these ’leading tennis administrators and television executives’ I wonder? Much like Will Carling noted about the Rugby Football Union, probably ‘fifty seven old farts’ of the middle aged male variety.
This represents yet another snub to both professional and amateur female players alike. Wimbledon only relented on equal pay in 2007 as Sir Richard Branson a member of the WTA Tour global advisory council quite rightly noted ’Women players have every right to feel strongly about the issue of equal prize money at Wimbledon. The outdated position adopted by the All England Club tarnishes the good name of the world’s greatest tennis tournament and sends a completely negative signal to women everywhere.’
Equal pay and coverage for women has always been an issue with nearly every sport across the globe; why can’t tennis be progressive and put forth an innovative mixed World Cup event including players from both gender? Admittedly, this would be impossible for team games such as football and rugby, however with the nature of tennis, the International Tennis Federation could easily pioneer this event, with individual singles matches for men and women, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles events all scoring points for their respective nation giving equal coverage to both men’s and women’s tennis globally. This would create a real buzz for the game, rather than simply providing male role models for the younger generation.
It’s hardly surprising that we’ve heard Andy Murray’s view; ’I am a great fan of the Davis Cup, but if a decision was taken to drop it, or something else could change in the calendar, then a World Cup is a fascinating idea’ and the thoughts of Novak Djokovic (One of the Vice Presidents of the ATP Tour’s player council) who said ‘nothing has been decided, we didn’t decide to put anything on official terms because we have to consider other sides as well.’ I wonder if one of those ‘sides’ is the possibility of a mixed World Cup? I doubt it very much, so hurry up Venus and Serena, step up and start campaigning before the fifty old farts decide for us!