Published August 15, 2006
Lines Of Women’s Rackets
Sports-equipment makers are “rolling out a range of new tennis rackets designed
for female players,” according to Carmen Fleetwood of the WALL STREET JOURNAL.
Female tennis players “have long used equipment that is essentially unisex,” and
tennis is “behind a number of other sports that have created equipment for the
female physique.” Companies say that “until recently, ... no rackets have offered
a combination of features aimed specifically at a woman’s physical characteristics.”
For example, the wooden Chris Evert racket, sold in the ’70s and ’80s by Wilson,
“was marketed to women but was essentially a lighter version of a man’s racket.”
Head has introduced a line of three lightweight titanium rackets for women called
Airflow, which is endorsed by Steffi Graf and priced from $159-199. At the U.S.
Open later this month, Fischer will launch two new rackets for women. Wilson last
year introduced its W line ($200-270), endorsed by Venus and Serena Williams.
Prince and Babolat “have no plans to launch women’s lines.” Some pro shops said
that the women’s rackets “haven’t been selling well.” Head does not have sales
figures yet, while Wilson said sales were “on track.” Fischer National Sales Manager
Fred Romanus said sales of the GDS Vision FT are going “very well.” Fleetwood
writes, “Questions remain about whether female athletes really want to use sporting
equipment designed for them, or if they will feel such products are merely weaker,
second-class goods at a premium price.” According to the Tennis Industry
Association, women racquets, priced as a high as $270, can “top the average of
$170 among the top-selling rackets at pro/specialty stores” (WALL
STREET JOURNAL, 8/15