Jul 21, 2008

Women tennis: Cashing in on sex appeal

Gone are the years where androgynous-looking tennis players like Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graff and Billie Jean King shouted the word feminism.

World no. 1 Ana Ivanovic is FHM magazine's no. 1 too.

Today, the WTA players ooze sex appeal rather than sexism. We have more 'Anna Kournikova' now than yesteryears, which I believe is a good thing. I mean that's the BEST THING that ever happen in women tennis.

However, unlike Anna Kournikova, many top women players today are able to sell more than just sex appeal. They dominate on court and the WTA rankings. They win trophies and the Grand Slams too.

We love the whole package: talents and good looks. Fans and the media love to see these players on court as much as to see them off court.

There’s Ana Ivanovic in Dolce and Gabana being escorted to a swanky party by Sir Richard Branson. Or glam shots of Daniela Hantuchova in an airline magazine; Venus Williams signing copies of a book of glamorous shots of her at Ralph Lauren’s London store and so on and so on until you get to Ashley Harkleroad on the cover of the new issue of Playboy ~ excerpt from Tennis Week.

Ashley Harkleroad and her strategically placed towel.
According to Larry Scott, the chief executive of WTA tour, in the London's Financial Times newspaper,
"All sports are trying to distinguish themselves through their athletes and the glamorous nature of what they do. That’s what sponsors are after."
Personally I'm embracing the development in the women tennis world these days. At least I have more off court highlights to blog about. And I admit that recently I do spend more time watching women players on TV too. This article in Tennis Week is right: more glamour equals bigger ratings.

(Images via FHM and Playboy)

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