Tennis rules say that men and women are equal?

How is the situation in tennis? What are the main differences and why there are these rules?

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Tennis rules say that men and women are equal?
© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

In tennis, men and women have identical rules, except in the Slams, where men play best of 5 sets, while women play best of 3 sets. This is the main rule that differentiates men's and women's tennis, but otherwise the sport is almost identical.

An interesting article from the Economist highlighted how some sports differ from each other, between the men's and women's sides. On the Economist podcast on science and technology, some sports are considered as prime examples.

An example is given by Ross Tucker, World Rugby consultant, who said how a test with a smaller ball could change the mechanics of the game. Another example was given by Arve Vorland Pedersen, a sports scientist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who said how football pitches and equipment could adapt to take physiological differences into account.

Lauren Heria, a professional soccer player, is also quoted in the Economist article, explaining why such interference is considered disrespectful by many players.

Tennis rules say that men and women are equal?

How is the situation in tennis? As mentioned in the introduction of the article, the substantial difference lies in the number of sets played in the Slams.

A decision that is part of tennis tradition. For women, playing best of 5 sets in Slams could be a superhuman effort. Let's take a concrete example. This year, the 2023 US Open experienced unprecedented weather conditions: heat and humidity created prohibitive playing conditions, making the matches hellish.

The men, who played the best of 5 sets, suffered warm and, especially, humid conditions that compromised their performances, as happened for example in the match between Jannik Sinner and Alexander Zverev. Making the women play the best of 5 sets in a tournament with such arduous playing conditions would have been a risk and a gamble for their health.

Daniil Medevdev himself explained how such conditions could lead the organizers to risk the lives of tennis players. Obviously in this article we have not dealt with the topic of prize money, on which there would be a lot to talk about, but for now we have only dealt with the technical side. Will anything change?

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