Indian Wells

Well, well, well. Should I do it? Yes, I think I will. So yesterday we had approximately 48 matches scheduled at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Of those 48 matches, approximately 40% of them (or roughly 19) were women’s matches. Of those approximately 19 scheduled women’s matches only 2 were thought to be worthy of broadcast to the tennis watching public. That was Kuznetsova who went down to Navarro and Clijsters who beat Barbara Strylocova. The Tennis Channel has been regaling us with the fact that they have almost 90 hours of broadcast from IW. All fine and good but the only match that TC considered worthy to air was that of American Sloane Stephens against Vera Z. Now, it did not help that many people who had the feed were not able to see that particular match as the feed was giving all sorts of trouble.

In addition to not seeing many more women’s matches, we also had to suffer the indignity of having men’s doubles matches being aired. Now these doubles matches were not doubles matches featuring the top teams in doubles, but make up doubles teams of some top players. I have no issue with that as the crowds for that particular match were standing room only. What annoys me is that this match got tv coverage and the women’s matches are not getting any coverage at all.
One of the problems that I have with television coverage of women’s events is that we as fans never get to see the up and coming players and so when they finally hit it big questions are being asked well where did she come from. Last night the defending champion on the women’s side played a young up and coming American called Sloane Stephens. I have never seen Stephens but from what those on the ground were saying on twitter, a few more years and experience and she will be one to watch. Last year’s losing finalist Ana Ivanovic went out in the first round to Semastova, a talented young Latvian who a few weeks ago took out another Serb, Jelena Jankovic in Monterey. I know this because I saw it on a live stream. Yes, a tournament in Monterey Mexico had a live feed of their event.
The week before Monterey there was a little known tournament in Acapulco, Mexico won by Venus Williams. It was a combined event. There was daily coverage of the men’s events. Not one single pixel of the women’s events were shown however. Not even as much as a highlight reel. Pathetic.
I have said it before and will continue to say it. The WTA needs to start addressing the issues that women’s tennis faces in terms of broadcasting of women’s matches. 2 of the stars of the game who are being touted as the next big thing played their matches in virtual obscurity as there was no coverage of IW until this Saturday. In addition Maria Sharapova played her match in which she struggled to even win points on her serve did not get shown. This year’s Australian Open finalist as well as a former No. 1 played her second round match in which she got beat by Gisela Dulko in obscurity as her match was not televised.
Indian Wells is a Masters Series event for the men and mandatory for all the top male players. Indian Wells is a Premier Mandatory event for the women and the women will get fined, suspended (with obvious exception clauses) and lose out on bonus money and points if they do not play. Clearly, this is an important tournament for both tours. Why is it then that the men get full coverage and the women are only given a half hearted attempt at coverage by the media.
I think it is time that the WTA looks long and hard about establishing its own network. I am sure that there are many fans like myself who will be only too willing to pay the money to subscribe to this particular channel. Before the WTA began its journey to what it is now, Billie Jean King and Rosie Casalas realised that there was no way that the women could continue to perform in tournaments and not get paid for their efforts. I think the same thing applies here now. The women are being ignored in their tournaments. I think if the WTA gets a contribution of 10% of each player’s yearly earnings and puts it towards the establishment of a network, I am sure that there would be many investors who would be willing to provide backing for this venture.
You only have to look at the number of message boards and how they light up at nights when a women’s match is being played. People from all over the world searching the Internet trying to find a live feed of an event.
I will continue to write about this issue until someone at least starts to do something.
The next combined event will be the Sony Ericsson Open. I know it will be more of the same and perhaps even worse as it comes on the heels of March Madness in basketball, TC is not advertising that they will be providing coverage and we all know that Fox Sports sucks at providing decent tennis coverage. In addition people like me in the Caribbean do not get Fox as part of our sports package so we are up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

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