Wimbledon Still Follows This Sexist Tradition When Referring To Female Tennis Players

It's time for a change.

Those who have been watching this year's Wimbledon competition may have noticed a discrepancy in how the tennis tournament refers to its female and male players. As pointed out by the New York Times, women are referred to according to their marital status, while men are simply called by their names.


For example, when seven-time Wimbledon champ Serena Williams beat Viktoriya Tomova in a match on Wednesday, the chair umpire declared, "Game, set and match, Mrs. Williams." Williams married Alexis Ohanian last year, and although she hasn't taken his last name, Wimbledon is still referring to her as "Mrs."

However, according to the Times, when Roger Federer won a match earlier in the day, he was referred to simply as "Federer." On the Champions Board, he is also called "R. Federer," whereas women have the distinction of "Miss" or "Mrs.," with their husband's first initial replacing theirs if they are married. Billie Jean King, for example, is listed as "Mrs. L.W. King."

The tradition also reportedly extends to the French Open, where women are called "Madame" and "Mademoiselle," but men are not called "Monsieur."

To make matters even more problematic, the Wimbledon Compendium apparently keeps track of the marital history of women who have reached the semifinals or final. It includes their husband's name, and the date and location of their wedding. No such record is kept for married men, and same-sex marriages are also ignored.

Many take issue with this sexist and outdated preoccupation with women's marital status and the credit being given to players' spouses for their own accomplishments. Wimbledon is already the last Grand Slam tournament to give equal prize money to male and female winners, as of 2007. The Times also reports that the women's qualifying tournament will not have the same number of spots as the men's until next year. 

Williams, who recently called for players to be drug-tested equally, reportedly hasn't decided how she wants to be addressed since her wedding, saying, "It still doesn't register that I'm married actually." Although no married woman has won a Wimbledon singles title since 1981, the Times points out that (in a slight break from tradition) Elena Vesnina, the 2017 women's doubles champion, is referred to as "Mrs. E. Vesnina."

The Wimbledon tradition is just one way the sports world still has to change in how it treats men and women. For instance, Forbes' 2017 list of the 100 highest-paid athletes didn't include a single woman. Female athletes, meanwhile, are often asked sexist questions about their love life and outfit choices. Serena Williams once even called out a reporter for asking why she wasn't smiling.

Hopefully, as more people speak out, we'll start to see female players referred to in the same way as their male peers.

(H/T: Glamour)

Cover image: Oli Scarff / AFP /Getty Images


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