The world is finally moving to take female athletes as seriously as it takes their male counterparts.
Tennis star Andy Murray quietly won the added respect of women around the world recently, by uttering just two words: ‘male player’.
During a post-match interview at Wimbledon, Murray interjected in a question around his being the ‘first U.S. tennis player to reach a semi-final since 2009’. “Male player”, Murray corrected, thus subtly but powerfully making a statement about the world’s tendency to overlook and downplay the success of female players such as Serena Williams, who has advanced to a major semi-final or beyond 20 times since 2009, and Venus Williams, who has done so five times, as well as Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe.
Murray’s correction highlighted much that has been wrong with sport for generations: women have not been taken as seriously as men have in the sporting arena.
But things are starting to change: female athletes are refusing to play the role of on-court eye candy, they’re moving to close performance gaps between male and female athletes, and some – like Caster Semenya – are even challenging gender stereotypes in sport. Inspired by Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, who shot half the movie while pregnant, US star athlete Alysia Montano recently competed in the 800 metres event while five months pregnant, proving to the world yet again that even pregnancy need not stand in the way of a woman athlete’s success. Wonder Woman is also credited with casting powerful real-life women sports stars including US CrossFit champion Brooke Ence, Swedish fighter Madeleine Vall Beijner, farmer Clare Duncan, and martial artist Mayling Ng to feature as the Amazons in the movie. These stars are reportedly so tough in real life that they had to be taught to act hurt when they took punches for the movie.
To their credit, even big brands have changed tack and now highlight women athletes less for their looks and more for their power and performance.
Women’s sport has also started to gain equal airtime on progressive channels such as our very own DEOD, which recently created a dedicated section for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 tournament and routinely features women’s world championship events in its sports news and features line-ups.
Catch the highlights of the Athletics World Championships, as well as leading women in sports on DEOD now.