Is Women’s Tennis More Popular Than Men’s Tennis?

It is an ever-going debate to try to compare men’s and women’s tennis since the battle of the sexes in the seventies. While it seems that people are certain that male tennis is more popular and enjoyable, some interesting numbers suggest just the opposite.

ESPN highlighted that more than 3.4 million viewers watched the game between Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez at the US Open final of 2021 during prime time. The women’s viewership was 33% higher than the men’s final, which recorded a 2.7 million peak during game hours.

Surprisingly, it is not the first time the US Open women’s games had more viewers than men’s. A similar pattern was recorded in 2019, where the bar was balanced with a slight shift towards the females.

With the recent rise in the popularity of feminine sports, it will be interesting to see which gender comes out on top. So, can we consider that women’s tennis is more popular than men’s tennis according to these statistics?

Viewership numbers are a good indicator of whether male or female tennis is more popular. It suggests the total number of interested people in the matches.

In the United States of America, women’s tennis has clearly more viewers and more interest on social media. Thus, it is more popular. The Williams sisters played a big role in growing women’s tennis fandom to what it is nowadays.

men vs women tennis interest worldwide Usa
Tennis interest in the USA

If we look worldwide, women’s tennis is slightly more popular but not by the biggest margins.

men vs women tennis interest worldwide
Tennis interest worldwide

Is Women’s Tennis More Exciting to Watch than Men’s Tennis?

It is difficult to judge because every game is enjoyable in its own way. Nevertheless, let’s decide which one is more exciting to watch.

Most experts use ‘chess’ to create an analogy with a women’s tennis game. It includes lengthy rallies, interesting in-game tactics, and changing plots, which makes the game more exciting to watch. Usually, women’s tennis engages lots of baseline exchange with slight variations only.

Men’s game, on the other hand, can be compared to ‘checkers’, a game where the mightier force comes on top. It involves rigorous and powerful strokes, high intensity, and little time to think.

Hence, when equally powerful men’s tennis players face each other, it comes down to tactical awareness and mental strength to break the tie.

Each one has its own taste, but to be fair, men’s tennis involves every single aspect of modern tennis like power, precision, physique, tactics, variations, powerful serves, and mental strength. Women’s games might be tight and exciting but they lack aspects you can only find in men’s tennis.

Do Male Tennis Players Have More Fans Than Female Players Do?

When we look at the table below based on online followers, which pretty much reflects the level of fandom each tennis player gets, we can see a balanced ranking involving the two genders.

On top we find Rafael Nadal followed by Roger Federer, but right behind him sit the famous Indian Sania Mirza and the queen Serena Williams.

In the top 10, 50% of the most followed tennis players on social media are male and 50% are female. It really doesn’t show much of a difference and it reflects the equality between the two genders fanwise.

PlayerGenderFollowers (Instagram)Followers (Twitter)Followers (Facebook)Total
1. Rafael NadalMale13.5m15.5m14.7m43.7m
2. Roger FedererMale9m12.1m18.6m39.7m
3. Sania MirzaFemale8.8m7.8m16.2m32.8m
4. Serena WilliamsFemale14.2m10.7m7.5m32.4m
5. Novak DjokovicMale10.3m9m10.6m29.9m
6. Maria SharapovaFemale4.2m8.4m15.4m28m
7. Andy MurrayMale1.8m3.7m3.4m8.9m
8. Ana IvanovicFemale1.5m2.8m3.4m7.7m
9. Juan Martin del PotroMale1.9m3.3m2.1m7.3m
10. Venus WilliamsFemale1.5m1.7m3.1m6.3m

 (*) The followers were counted in the article publishing date.

How Does the Attendance of Men’s Tennis Compare to Women’s Tennis?

According to signal-ai.com, the viewership is balanced but slightly in favor of women’s tennis matches in Grand Slams, which are the most important tournaments.

men vs women tennis viewrship

If we look at the US Open 2021, women’s games attracted 17% more viewers on average than men’s games, according to ESPN, which is a shocking number and mostly due to the worship of American female players like the Williams sisters.

Men’s tennis, on the other hand, is reported to receive more media coverage than women’s tennis, regardless of viewership. The articles and the reports are heavily focused on the Big 3, Rafa, Roger, and Novak.

Why Female Tennis Players Are Paid the Same as Male Players?

Tennis has the lowest gender pay gap in sports. Women tennis players no longer have to deal with pay disparities thanks to the efforts of the Women’s Tennis Association. This encourages women to pursue a tennis career for a living, knowing it pays the same as men.

Some are opposed to this concept since men usually play longer matches than women, and the level of men’s matches is considerably higher and tougher.

Shorter matches do not make women any less worthy of winning, and if given the opportunity, they may be able to play best of five sets like men.

Finally, players are awarded according to how well they play and how often they win, not on how long they play.

Battle of Sexes in Tennis

In tennis, “Battle of the Sexes” refers to a contest between professional male and female tennis players. The idea was initially presented by Bobby Riggs; former No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player. Riggs claimed that he could beat any female player at his age. In addition to that, Riggs also declared that women were inferior to men; they could not handle the pressure of the game.

The phrase “Battle of the Sexes” was especially used for an international contest between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. The historic match took place in 1973 at Houston Astrodome. It was broadcasted internationally and was won by Billie Jean King in straight sets (6-4, 6-3, 6-3). It was a historic win and was important for women’s tennis and the Liberation Movement.

After the game, Billie Jean King said, “I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match. It would ruin the women’s tour and affect all women’s self-esteem.”

In addition to that, it was the most-viewed match in history, with an in-house attendance of 30,472. Moreover, it was watched by 90 million people on TV.

Additionally, two other matches are also referred to as a Battle of the Sexes. It includes a match between Riggs and Margaret Court, which took place in the same year. It was won by Riggs. In addition, another game took place in 1992 between Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova. The match went to Jimmy Connors.

Final Thoughts

Tennis is a sport meant to be played and tasted no matter the age, gender, or nationality. Over time, debates and disputes took a toll on the beautiful sport but never could deprive us of enjoying the different eras of both men and women legends of the game like Pete Sampras, Margaret Court, Ivan Lendl, Martina Navratilova, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and the list goes on.

If you ask me if women’s tennis is more popular than men’s tennis, I would personally say, tennis is an amazing and popular sport no matter who plays.

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