Throughout history it was very uncommon for women to do many things in society, like having a job, being able to vote, and playing sports. It was customary for women to stay in the house and fulfill their “womanly” duties at home and take care of the children.
Today, we have many accomplished women that are very passionate about their sport. However, there are still barriers that prevent women from reaching their full potential. One of the major issues we see in sports, is the gender pay gap. There are a lot of cases where the women’s team have a higher rate of wins than the men’s team, but get paid significantly less. For instance, in the past the USA women’s soccer team has won the Women’s World Cup four times in a row. They contribute a significantly larger amount of money to the USSoccer, which is the organization that governs both the women’s and men’s soccer teams in the US.
It is difficult enough being a female athlete in a male dominated area but also being a minority, makes things even harder. A very well known tennis player has fought through these difficulties her whole life. Serena Williams is one of the most notable tennis players due to her 23 Grand Slam tournament titles, which is the highest number of wins by a single athlete. She also a big advocate for women and especially women of color. Serena has spoken up about many issues regarding the gender pay gap and women’s rights.
Serena Williams played in the US Open Final in Sept. 2018, against Naomi Osaka. Naomi Osaka is the first Asian tennis player to hold a top ranking in the singles division and also the first player from Japan to make it to the number 1 title. This game between the two was very eventful for many reasons. During this match, the umpire had called many code violations against Serena that were uncalled for. She talked to the umpire saying that this was unfair, calling him a “thief” since those violations cost her points in the game. Serena also mentioned that many of the men players say far worse things to the umpire during a match and never suffer any consequences. This match was also a significant event since two women of color are competing in the US Open Finals. When the match was over, both Osaka and Williams were in tears. They both supported each in the end and were grateful to play against each other.
Another example of sexism happening in tennis, was when a female player took off her shirt during the US Open Finals due to the extreme heat and ended up getting a code violation for that. There was a large social media criticism about that situation, which lead to the US Tennis Association changing the policy. It is unfair to the women because many of the men players take their shirts off a lot and when a women does it, they get a code violation.
As an athlete myself, I have faced some of these barriers that are set up mostly by men with power. During my time in high school, I have had a situation where my sports team had a significant budget cut by our male athletic director. Then the portion of our budget cut was given to the boys lacrosse team. Our coach, who was a male, was furious. He supported our team and believed this was unfair. If it wasn’t for him I believe that we would have had no say in the matter. Without the support of another male, things would have been worse. This just shows how discrimination can happen in any level of play and age.
Society has come a long way with women’s rights. However, there is still a long journey ahead. Playing sports should be about having fun and fulfilling your passion. It sad to see many female athletes facing so many barriers in their careers, when all they want to do is play the sport they love. In the future, I hope that us women will have equal rights and to play a sport without facing discrimination.