French tennis star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost his quarterfinal match in the Australia Open last night to Roger Federer, and then the support of many by telling a post-match press conference why "girls" can't keep up with the men in the sport.
When the eighth ranked Tsonga was asked why he couldn't break into the dominant "big four" of male tennis (Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Ferrer), he was at a loss. "I don't know what is the difference,'' he said. "I'm just working hard. I do my best. Maybe I'm less talented for the moment.''
But he wasn't talking about talent when he was asked why there's not a similar dominance of a handful of women in the sport.
"The girls they are more unstable emotionally than us. I'm sure everybody will say it's true, even the girls," said Tsonga. "I mean, it's just about hormones and all this stuff. We don't have all these bad things so we are physically in a good shape every time and you are not. That's it."
His comments came after Serena Williams, former world number one, was defeated by rising star Sloane Stephens.
While many reports of Tsonga's comments dismiss his chauvinism as cheeky, he also failed to recognise the structural differences in tennis majors that make it easier for new talent to win a female match than a male one.
Female tennis players need only win two sets out of three, as opposed to male tennis players who need three of five to claim the match. This gives male tennis players the opportunity to refocus and turn the game around after a poor second or third set, an option not available to female players.
Rose Powell is a journalist with Women's Agenda sister publication StartUpSmart.
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