Over the years, female athletes have overcome countless obstacles, and it’s now generally accepted that many of the world’s best sports players are women. But from sexist comments about their appearances to pay discrepancies, gender inequality in the world of sports is still very alive and well. And an old Wimbledon tradition is reminding us just how true this is.
The 2018 Wimbledon tournament is underway, and Serena Williams, who recently took a break from tennis after the birth of her daughter, is once again making headlines. But due to her marriage to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, the athlete has gone from “Miss Williams” to “Mrs. Williams” on the grass court, according to the Associated Press. And in case you were wondering, announcers only use titles before female athletes’ names. Roger Federer, for example, is simply referred to as “Federer.”
According to the New York Times, the official Wimbledon Compendium (essentially a giant Wimbledon fact book) “logs the marriage history—husband, wedding date and location—of any woman who has reached the semifinals or final,” while nothing that, “No such record is kept for the men who have graced the tournament’s final four.”
Williams told the Associated Press that she wasn’t aware of the marriage record for female players. "I actually never knew they had that," she said. "It will be interesting to know why it’s not for both sexes."
In 2009, Wimbledon stopped using the titles “Miss” and “Mrs.” on scoreboards, The Times of London reported. So it’s possible that in the future, male and female players will also be addressed the same way (after all, they’re kicking butt in the same way).
It’s extremely telling that female athletes are defined by their marital status at Wimbledon while male athletes are not. Courtesy titles may be a longstanding tradition, but we think it’s time for that to change.