In tennis news for your Saturday, several WTA players have criticized what they have to go through on tour. Billie Jean King has a response for them.
Let’s start with the Billie Jean King part. Current WTA player Emma Raducanu recently called the WTA tour “completely brutal.” Raducanu is just one of several players that have complained about what a player must endure off the court and what is expected of them.
The issue mostly seems to be media related, however, and how brutish they can be. Players are often asked about things that have nothing to do with tennis simply because they are professional athletes. It’s a bit like asking a politician the best way to win Wimbledon.
The WTA might need to do better oversight with what is asked of players
King, who helped set up the WTA in 1973 so that women tennis professionals would have more control over money and tournaments, said that the players simply need to get used to it, though, and that it comes with being a high-level tennis player, but also stated help is available for those you ask.
"What do they expect? It is going to be difficult, but you’ve chosen to be a professional athlete. With that goes certain things that you have to look at. It’s competitive. You have to ask for help if you need it. We [athletes] are used to stiff upper lip, be tough. No. On the court maybe, but off the court, you need help. Ask for what you want and need. Girls are socialized not to do that. Have you ever noticed that girls have a hard time to ask for what they want and what they need? And they need to step up and ask for it."
King is right, but so are the current players like Naomi Osaka who decided not to speak to the media at the French Open (not the only player who has done that) and said the media were affecting her personal health. There is help for players, of course. But who has time to ask or receive it if they are too busy practicing, playing, and then speaking to the media?
I am not discounting Billie Jean King at all. She created the WTA to help with women’s issues and it has been good for the game. But maybe there could be a lot more oversight from tennis in general about just what players are asked in press conferences that have nothing to do with the sport they are playing.