• Alistair Tait

Why Tennis And Not Golf?

Updated: 6 days ago

Emma Raducanu is quite rightly getting rave reviews for winning her first major tennis title at the tender age of 18, and making history in the process.

We just can’t seem to get enough Emma stories right now. Our newspapers are full of them. Websites are splashing pictures of her. Type just her first name into a search engine and a Raducanu story pops up immediately. Suddenly everyone is in love with Emma and tennis.

And yes, before you point it out, bloggers like me are hitching on to the Emma frenzy to pen blogs. Guilty as charged.

Here’s a serious question that’s been floating through my head since she defeated Canada’s Leylah Fernandez at Flushing Meadows and sent a nation into rapture: if an 18-year-old English golfer had won this year’s U.S. Women’s Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco instead of Yuka Saso, would she be getting the same press as Raducanu is right now?

I doubt it.

If, say, an 18-year-old Charley Hull had won the U.S. Women’s Open, would she be getting the same column inches, the same attention?

Charley gets her fair share of attention and is financially well off from playing this game. Rightly so since she’s extremely talented. I doubt she would have had the same onslaught of media hype, the same bank balance, if she had won the U.S. Women’s Open when she was 18.

I have no metrics to back this theory up, but precedent seems to show that for some reason tennis gets far more attention in Great Britain than this royal and ancient game. Andy Murray got reams and reams of press when he was in his pomp, and still does, far more than he would have done if he’d been playing this stick and ball game and reached world number one.

Think back to Luke Donald when he sat atop the Official World Golf Ranking for a total of 56 weeks. That the short-hitting Englishman was able to reach the summit of golf’s pecking order in the age of Tiger Woods and other bombers is a superb achievement. Did he fully get the credit he deserved? I don’t think so.

There is talk of Raducanu becoming the first billionaire British sports women. Good for her. Would experts be predicting that astronomical sum if she had won America’s national golf tournament? I don’t think so.

I’m sure Georgia Hall (above) has done well financially out of winning the 2018 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Lytham, the second English woman after Karen Stupples to win the championship after it gained major championship status. Hall would be far richer if she’d won Wimbledon. So would Stupples.

Catriona Matthew’s 2009 Ricoh Women’s Open victory at Lytham was an incredible achievement. It came nine weeks after giving birth to second daughter Sophie. It was not only her first major, but the first major victory for any Scottish woman. Did she reap huge financial rewards? Nope. As I’ve said ad nauseum, Catriona has never received the proper credit she deserves for that magnificent victory. Would she have done if she’d become the first Scot to win Wimbledon? Absolutely. She’d be raking it in right now.

Why does the great British public love tennis more than golf? Seriously? I’d love to know.

#JustSaying: “All golfers, men and women, professional and amateur, are united by one thing – their desire to improve.” Judy Rankin

Photograph courtesy of the Ladies European Tour

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