“I don’t know why they’re different than men’s,” she said.
In fact, women at the US Open use a more aerodynamic ball than men – and it’s the only Grand Slam where this is the case. Top women’s tour players have complained that with a different felt binding, the ball is difficult to control and can wear out faster.
Swiatek, whose forehand is arguably one of the tour players strongest, said the eggs could put her at a disadvantage. In addition to the control issues, she said she cannot buy them in Europe, where she practices.
“I don’t know, maybe 15 years ago women had some elbow injuries because the balls were heavier and they swapped them out for women’s balls, but right now we’re so well prepared physically that I don’t think it would happen. ” She said.
The dissatisfaction among Swiatek and other top players over the balls underscores the ongoing criticism that professional tennis is rife with double standards. In the sport’s four most prestigious tournaments – the “Grand Slams” – women play shorter matches than men. While the Grand Slam tournaments offer the same prize money, other elite competitions still do Women pay significantly less. This is in addition to the comments women tennis players are facing player, commentators and Officer about their athletic ability, their clothing and their entertainment value.
A spokeswoman for the Women’s Tennis Association told the Washington Post that the organization will “continue to monitor” the ball complaints and discuss them with “our athletes and our sports science team.”
“The WTA has always used regular felt balls for hard court games and we have now started hearing from a select number of our athletes that they would consider switching to using the extra duty ball,” she added, referencing then use the ballmen. “The reason for using the regular felt ball was that it limits the risk of arm, shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries.”
The balls used by men and women at the US Open are identical in size, weight and bounce, said Jason Collins, senior director of global product at Wilson Sporting Goods, which makes the balls used in the tournament. He told the Post that the only difference was the felt cover.
The men’s “extra-duty” ball is fluffier and creates a thicker surface, he said. The felt of the “regular” women’s version is “tighter weave,” which makes the ball more aerodynamic, Collins said.
“The balls play faster,” he said, “so they feel lighter on the stringbed.”
For Swiatek, it means her performance is affected and she is worried about injuries, she told reporters last week. “Right now we’re playing powerfully and we kind of can’t loosen our hands with these balls,” she said. “I know there are a lot of players who are complaining and a lot of them are in the top 10.”
One of these players is Paula Badosa, world number 4 from Spain posted a photo a normal ball can next to the extra strong ball can. The Regular Use Canister notes that these balls are “ideal for clay and indoor courts”, while the Extra Duty balls are “ideal for extended play on hard court surfaces”.
The US Open is an open hard court event.
“Very unfavorable conditions for the players and for the spectacle,” she wrote on Instagram, underlining the statement with a shit emoji Comments translated by Reuters.
“Then we complain that there are many mistakes and there is a loss of tactics and intelligence on points,” she wrote, adding “faster courts and balls that are uncontrollable.”
After Ashleigh Barty won the Australian Open this year, Craig Tyzzer told reporters that the faster US Open balls would dampen their success at the tournament. Barty, then number 1, announced her retirement shortly after winning the big tournament in her home country.
“The US Open really needs to change…the fact that they still use a different ball for boys and girls. It’s a terrible ball for someone like Ash,” Tyzzer said, adding, “If they keep the ball, nobody like Ash is going to win this tournament.”
But not every player wants change. Madison keya 20th-ranked American who defeated Swiatek at last week’s Cincinnati tournament told reporters during a news conference that regular ball was her “favorite.”
“I mean, we practice with these all the time,” she said, adding that she also liked them because they “don’t get as fluffy.”
When exactly and why the regulation came into force is unclear. The WTA spokeswoman did not want to give more details. A WTA representative said the Wall Street Journal in 2019 that the rule came into effect in the early 1980s at the request of players who said the extra-duty balls were hard on their arms.
Collins said that “there is nothing stopping us from offering any particular ball in our range” as long as the WTA allows it. “We will always work closely with our partners to select the best ball for each event,” he added.
Jessica Pegula, an American ranked 8th in the world, told reporters last week that she is also “not a fan” of regular balls. As a member of the WTA Players’ Council, she said she will “put something together and maybe make it more consistent”.
Laura Hills, a sports sociologist at Brunel University London, told The Post that she was not surprised that some players were protesting about the difference in possession. Even a small disparity – like a seemingly light ball – can have a negative impact on both professional and aspiring players.
“For many players, this can be demoralizing as women increasingly encounter practices that make them feel like men’s sport is better,” she said in an email. “Women have to constantly struggle to gain a foothold in sport and be perceived as legitimate, so any double standards are another barrier that needs to be addressed.”
Nancy Spencer, a professor of sports management at Bowling Green State University, said she wanted to play high school tennis growing up, but there were no women’s teams back then. She eventually played in college and became a tennis coach.
Despite how far tennis has come in recent years, she said the sport can resist change, citing the controversial fight until 2007 to give men and women equal prize money at Wimbledon. The faster balls, she said, are another obstacle.
“Taking it all together,” she said, “it shows we still have a long way to go.”