Earlier this week, Stacy Allaster, CEO of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), said that female players are ready and willing to play 5 set matches in Grand Slams. The comment comes after Andy Murray became the latest player to talk about equal match lengths for men and women. So will they? More importantly, should they?
Let's make it clear that it's definitely not a 'oh, but they are the weaker sex' debate. Something like this has to be looked at from a bit of a social perspective. Equal pay, which is a relatively new thing in tennis, should ideally mean equal play. And that's exactly what the male players are asking, why do we have to play longer matches if the money we're getting paid is that same? Let's be honest. That apart, there isn't exactly a clamour to get women to play longer tennis matches. It would be safe to say, that compared to the insanely high levels of men's tennis, women's tennis today is a bit of an inferior product.
Those that are big fans of modern day women's tennis (and I don't know many of those), would say, of course, there must be 5-setters for women too. It's not the question of fitness, as I've mentioned before. If women can run marathons and triathlons, if they can participate in football and cricket matches as long as the ones men play, then why not in tennis too? I'm trying to remember really hard of a women's singles Grand Slam final that I watched in recent years and said, "Wow, what an epic match!". I can't remember any. Will the women produce better tennis if they have to play an extra set or two? Will it change the fact that many of them play boring baseline tennis, and they may just be more aggressive because they have to play for longer? It could make the women's game a little more entertaining, you never know.