Tennis, anyone? I’ve always thought tennis was one of the greatest sports to play, for several reasons. Everyone has easy access to courts in public parks; it’s great exercise for people of all ages and athletic ability levels; and the outfits people wear during play are basically second-to- none. But what makes tennis one of the most popular women’s sports to watch around the world? It is undoubtedly a woman’s sport that appeals to the masses, which, let’s be honest, is quite rare. Below are five reasons why women’s tennis is so popular as a spectator sport.
*#5. Equal Facetime During matches *
You don’t see NBA games followed up by a showing of a WNBA contest, or even a mixed-gender soccer doubleheader at the World Cup. But in tennis, that is exactly what happens at the major tournaments. Sometimes the women’s semifinal or finals matches even take top billing on television over the men’s, depending on who’s playing. It’s a gender “equal time” measure unmatched in any other sport.
#4. Better pace and style of play for viewers
Not only do the women get equal exposure on television and at the tournaments, you could easily argue that the women’s style of game is more appealing to the tennis purist. Whereas the professional men’s game is almost exclusively a game of who can get their serve in for winners more consistently, the women’s game and its less aggressive service game results in longer rallies, more fundamental and tactical play, and ultimately, often more drama within a game.
#3. Marketability/Media Visibility
Women’s tennis players are also the most marketable. Of Forbes’ 100 World’s Highest-Paid Athletes (a metric calculated by both salary/winnings and endorsements), only two were women. Incidentally, those two women were also two of the most successful pro tennis players ever, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Obviously, you’ve seen and heard of these two ladies just about everywhere and anywhere. And you may not know it, but it surely makes you more likely to tune in and watch one of their matches, in a subconscious kind of way.
#2. Worldwide prevalence of players and fans
With more than 1 billion estimated fans around the world, tennis truly is a global game. With devoted fans across Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas, anyone with a vaguely athletic bent is sure to at least try playing or watching it at some point in their lives. It’s one of only four sports worldwide with at least 1 billion estimated fans, including Soccer, Field Hockey and Cricket.
#1. Serena’s dynastic and historic dominance
Women’s tennis is more popular than ever. In addition to the aforementioned reasons, one player stands above the rest to propel the women’s sport to exciting new heights of fan interest. Her name, of course, is Serena. Serena Williams is widely regarded as the greatest women’s player in history. Her long list of on-court accolades hardly needs mentioning, but we’ll do so anyway: She’s won 21 major championships, completed two “Serena Slams” (winning all four of the majors, the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, consecutively) and in 2015 nearly nabbed the first calendar Grand Slam — which is a title at each of the four major tournaments in the same calendar year – of her career. She has been so great, in fact, that America now views her as the greatest tennis player of all-time, and the fourth-greatest athlete…ever. Take a minute to think about, that and it’s no wonder people are tuning in to watch women’s tennis.