Martina Navratilova says there still is inequality between men and women in tennis and in other sports.
“Men still have more opportunities, more corporations are run by men, therefore they’re more ready to sponsor male athletes,” the 18-time Grand Slam winner told BT Sport. “Here’s a double standard, there’s no doubt about it in my mind. It’s still hard for some to accept strong women. With men, we’re so much quicker to accept their greatness. With women we doubt their greatness. I’ve seen it time and time again.
“It’s much easier for Roger Federer to be loved by everybody than for Serena Williams to be loved by everybody, just by the fact that he’s a guy. I don’t know how much of it has to do with Serena herself, how much of it has to do with the fact she’s African American and how much of it is that she’s a woman. In some ways people are willing to give people the mantle of the greatest of all time and at the same time they’re still not getting the respect they should be getting.”
Now a commentator for Tennis Channel and BT Sport, Navratilova said that after “un-retiring” and returning to the WTA in 2000, the reaction she received was not as kind of that given to NBA superstar Michael Jordan, who also made a comeback around the same time.
“When Michael Jordan came back and played again it was ‘he’s unbelievable, he’s the best ever’ and when I came back and played some matches and won it was ‘there’s no depth in women’s tennis.’ With Serena it’s ‘she doesn’t have much competition.’ Well, Roger (Federer) didn’t have much competition for a while either but they weren’t bemoaning that fact, they were never saying there’s no depth in men’s tennis. They’re quick to say it about women.”