Men's Tennis Lacks Diversity Of Women's Game Despite Rising African-American Participation
The women's draw at the U.S. Open is "teeming with diversity," as nine of the top 14 ranked U.S. women "are African-American, Asian, Latina or mixed race, including five of the top six," according to Douglas Robson of USA TODAY. There is "little doubt the landscape of American tennis, especially on the women's professional level, has never been more diverse, even if direct correlations to a 'Williams effect' are difficult to validate." USTA First VP Katrina Adams said of the Williams sisters, "I'm sure they sparked an interest in a lot of little girls in particular to play the sport." A Tennis Industry Association survey from '12 shows that participation among African-Americans "hit a 10-year high" from figures compiled since '88. Hispanic participation "was the third highest during the last decade." But there has been "less obvious impact on the men's pro game," as only two of the top 10 American men "are of color: Donald Young and Rajeev Ram, who is a second-generation American of Indian descent." However, two of the U.S.' "top prospects are black: 16-year-olds Francis Tiafoe and Michael Mmoh." The lack of diversity in the men's game is because there has been "nothing close to the iconic status of the Williams sisters in American tennis since Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson." USTA Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer D.A. Abrams said that the organization has been "making solid inroads with minorities in a variety of areas." Those areas include "community outreach, suppliers, training and development and via tennis leagues, school and park programs, and grants." But Robson writes, "Nothing inspires like star power." Former tennis player Zina Garrison said the Williams sisters "made tennis cool for anybody and everybody" (USA TODAY, 8/26).
TUGGING ON THE PURSE STRINGS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Steven Kutz asks, "How much does tennis spread the wealth?" Fernando Verdasco, the 32nd highest-paid player in men's tennis this year has made $757,446, while the "No. 32 earner on the PGA Tour this year, J.B. Holmes, has made" more than $2M. PGA Tour events in '14 "will pay out" $308M, while ATP tourneys -- "plus the Grand Slams -- will pay" $160M (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/26).