Why 'Understanding Women's Lives' Is Key to Getting More Women Playing Sport

Ruth Holdaway   |   September 7, 2015    9:24 AM ET

Like so many people around the country, my jaw dropped when I saw Jess Ennis-Hill steam through the finish line of the 800m in her final heptathlon event in Beijing last month. Not just an Olympic Champion, but suddenly a World Champion, and the latter achieved just 13 months after giving birth to her first child. If we didn't know that the face of London 2012 was a phenomenon already, we certainly know it now.

The thing is, it's particularly astonishing because so often sport doesn't do enough to take into account the needs of mothers. And not just mothers; daughters, too. And sisters. Aunts. Grandmothers.


Of course the demands of elite sport are different from the demands that I might feel when I take to my surfboard, but the fact is that with around 2 million fewer women than men playing sport on a regular basis something isn't working.

At Women in Sport, we exist to transform sport for the benefit of every woman and girl in the UK. That means many different things but, critically, it means making sure sport is there and accessible for as many women and girls that want it to be a part of their lives. That's why, today, we've launched our new report, Understanding Women's Lives, detailing how insight the Women in Sport team has spent almost two years trialling and testing is helping sport gain a better understanding of the distinct needs of women.

Our research identified one major factor: for women, many of our decisions are underpinned by a complex value system which changes constantly throughout our lives. The system contains six values which tend to be common, to varying degrees at different times of our lives, to most, if not all, women. In no particular order these values are: looking good; feeling good; nurturing family and friends, achieving goals; developing skills; and having fun. The importance of each of these values changes over time and can range from short-term influences (we might make choices predicated on making us look good if there is something particular we're aiming towards; a big social occasion, for example) to long-term behavioural evolutions (having children might make us more focussed on nurturing friends and family). The simple reality is that we're extremely unlikely to be influenced by the same dominant value for our whole lives, but we will be influenced by each of the six values at some point in our lives.

For sport, this represents a challenge - and a huge opportunity. Traditionally, sport, even when it has been designed with women in mind, has too often been guilty of knowing how to accommodate only those women who are already 'sporty'. This means there are vast numbers of women out there - myself included - who simply don't feel sport is offering them anything appealing or achievable.

Our report shows sport bodies what they can do to change this. Since undertaking the research in 2013 we've been working with different National Governing Bodies to test out our findings with new products, offerings and marketing tactics across a whole range of sports; with impressively positive results.

Last year, more than 13 million women in England said they would like to be doing more sport than they currently are. There is a huge market out there for women playing sport and I really believe that the enthusiasm is there from both women and from sport bodies to make things work. I also believe that our research can be the bridge between 'enthusiasm' and 'understanding'.

Programmes like the LTA's Tennis Tuesday, the FA's Soccercise and England Athletics' Why We Run are great examples of what sport is starting to do well in considering women and girls' values.

Now we want to see the rest of sport taking a lead and putting serious effort into Understanding Women's Lives.

Huffington Post Staff   |   August 13, 2015   12:28 PM ET

Read More: uk news, Nick Kyrgios, tennis

Controversial tennis star Nick Kyrgios could face action from authorities after making crude remarks about his opponent's girlfriend on court.

The 20-year-old Australian was playing French Open champion Stan Wawrinka when he was caught on camera telling him another player, fellow countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis, had slept with the Swiss player's girlfriend, 19-year-old Croatian tennis player Donna Vekic.

Wawrinka wrote on his Twitter account that the Australian's words were "not only unacceptable but also beyond belief."

donna vekic

Croatian tennis player Donna Vekic, 19 is the girlfriend of Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka

A courtside microphone at the Rogers Cup match in Montreal picked up the Kyrgios telling Wawrinka: "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend - sorry to tell you that mate."

Vekic, ranked 127th, played mixed doubles with Kokkinakis, also 19 and ranked No. 76, at the 2014 Australian Open as a wild-card entry.

, ranked fifth in the world, announced in April that he had separated from his wife, with whom he has a daughter.

thanasi kokkinakis

Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis cheer on the Australian Davis Cup Team in Darwin this year

The 30-year-old Swiss was forced to retire from the match through injury in the third set but tweeted his opinion of the matter afterwards: "There is no need for this kind of behaviour on or off the court and I hope the governing body of this sport does not stand for this," he wrote on Twitter.

It would appear the public agree and aren't afraid to use slightly less... professional language.

In a post-match interview on court, Kyrgios said Wawrinka had provoked him.

"He was getting a bit lippy at me so, I don't know, it's just in-the-moment sort of stuff," Kyrgios said. "I don't really know, I just said it."

And plenty of people were keen to defend the Australian...

Kyrgios beat Wawrinka on Wednesday when the Swiss retired with a lower-back injury while trailing 4-0 in the third set.

The ATP rule book allows a fine of up to $10,000 for incidents of verbal abuse or unsportsmanlike conduct.

The rules note that a "singularly egregious, a single violation of this section shall also constitute the player Major Offense of Aggravated Behavior."

Wawrinka's coach, Magnus Norman, also criticized Kyrgios, who has been at the center of controversy in recent weeks.

"That was really really low Nick Kyrgios," Norman wrote on Twitter. "Hope for u that u have people around that will teach u a thing or 2 about life tonight. Very bad."

At Wimbledon last month, Kyrgios was booed by spectators in a fourth-round loss to Richard Gasquet of France. Kyrgios appeared to make little attempt to return Gasquet's serve during the third game of the second set after a dispute with the chair umpire.

That incident prompted Australian swimming great Dawn Fraser to question the character of Kyrgios and suggest he could leave the country and return to where his parents came from.

Kyrgios, who was born in Australia to a father born in Greece and mother born in Malaysia, replied on Twitter that Fraser was a "blatant racist." She later apologised.


Dawn Fraser's Nick Kyrgois Remarks On Australian TV Slammed For Being 'Blatantly Racist'

Nick Kyrgios Might Have Just Outdone Himself Behaviour-Wise In Milos Raonic Match

Chris York   |   August 13, 2015   10:25 AM ET

Controversial tennis star Nick Kyrgios is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons once again for making crude remarks about his opponent's girlfriend on court.

The 20-year-old Australian was playing Stan Wawrinka at the Montreal Masters when he was caught on camera telling him another player, Thanasi Kokkinakis, had slept with his girlfriend.

He said: "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend - sorry to tell you that mate."

Wawrinka was forced to retire from the match through injury in the third set but tweeted his opinion of the matter afterwards...

It would appear the public agree and aren't afraid to use slightly less... professional language.

Remarkably some people defended the tennis star...

Natasha Hinde   |   August 11, 2015   10:18 PM ET

There's no denying Serena Williams is a bad-ass. But when it comes to dealing with sexism in the sport that she's dominated for years, she's badder still.

In an interview with The Cut, Williams opens up about sexism in the sports industry, particularly after being labelled as "masculine" and having to endure harsher rules than her male counterparts.

The interview details how, in 2009, tough-talking Williams told a lineswoman, "I’ll fucking take this ball and shove it down your fucking throat", after she was called out for a foot fault.

The incident left Williams with a mammoth $82,500 (£52,945) fine, which the tennis star says would've gained far less attention and criticism if a male tennis player had done the same.

"I just think it was weird," she told The Cut. "I just really thought that was strange. You have people who made a career out of yelling at line judges. And a woman does it, and it’s like a big problem. But you know, hey."

In the photoshoot which features alongside an interview with New York magazine, Williams - who has been on the receiving end of numerous body-shaming comments throughout her career - has the last laugh.

Showing off the toned physique which has helped her win five Wimbledon championships and four Olympic gold medals, Williams is pictured doing the splits and looking incredibly powerful in the process.

In another photograph, she is seen posing with her arms above her head in a body-con, black gown which shows off her feminine physique.

We reckon the troll who said Williams was "built like a man" earlier this year must be kicking himself right now.

A photo posted by The Cut (@thecut) on


When We Attack Serena Williams' Body, It's Really About Her Blackness

Women's World Cup 2015: 'Sexist' Profile On FIFA's Website Focuses On Alex Morgan's 'Good Looks' Before Mentioning Her Football Skills

Sara C Nelson   |   August 7, 2015    8:41 AM ET

Former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his wife Kim Sears are expecting their first baby.

The couple, who married in the tennis player's hometown of Dunblane in April, have announced the pregnancy to their family and friends, the Sun writes.

The announcement came after Kim, 27, visited hospital for a 12-week scan, with the baby due in February, the newspaper reported.

andy murray kim sears

Andy Murray and Kim Sears were married in April

The pregnancy has since been confirmed by Murray’s agent, the BBC writes.

The former Wimbledon champion's mother Judy recently told a magazine that she was "really looking forward to being a granny".

Murray, 28, enjoyed a strong run of form after marrying his long-term girlfriend in front of family and friends at Dunblane Cathedral on April 11, reaching the semi-finals of the French Open and Wimbledon, and winning his first titles on clay.

Speaking to Sky Sports 3 earlier this year, he said: ''It (marriage) has been nice and a lot of people have spoken about the honeymoon period.

''But we've been together a very long time and getting married was the next step."

Murray fans were quick to congratulate the couple after news of Kim's pregnancy was reported, tweeting him their best wishes.

Andy Murray and Kim Sears tie the knot

Davis Cup Success at Last... But Where Next for British Tennis?

David Ready   |   July 19, 2015    9:47 PM ET

As Andy Murray helps to steer Great Britain to a Davis Cup win against France at Queen's, we have to ask the question: Where would British tennis be without Andy? The answer is: Nowhere.

Lack of opportunities for youngsters to play tennis at grass-roots level in schools, alongside the overpricing of courts has led young people to be dissuaded from playing tennis and potentially forging a career in tennis.

After the closure of the high performance programme at the National Tennis Centre in Richmond last year, many young British hopefuls who have tried to follow in the footsteps of Andy such as 2011 US Open boys champion Oliver Golding and Harry Meehan have given up as a result of the strict regimes and the lack of support.

Oliver Golding said on twitter:

Tennis is a brutal sport. Players need all the help and support they can get. Money is an advantage we have over other countries, use it!

Hard courts all over London charge extortionate prices to play for an hour, with many young people not having the money to pay and play, catering instead for older players and wealthy families who can afford this.

On one side of the argument, the prices put in place could deter young people from antisocial behaviour on the courts, but ultimately it serves as a financial barrier for young people who may be interested in taking up the sport, forming an elitist ring around Wimbledon and providing an explanation for the lack of British talent progressing into the professional ranks.

Golding in an interview with Simon Briggs from The Telegraph also said:

"It's surprisingly difficult to find places to play in London. Either the clubs aren't keen on having performance players based there or, if they are keen, they don't have adequate facilities."

Great Britain remain behind other countries for this reason, with France occupying ten players in the men's singles top 100 compared to Britain's three, with Slovenian-born Aljaz Bedene only this year being granted UK citizenship.

Displays in the Davis Cup and Wimbledon, like that of James Ward's Davis Cup comeback against John Isner in Glasgow, has generated positivity towards a wider birth of British talent coming through. Indeed Heather Watson's performance against Serena Williams at Wimbledon offers a lot of encouragement, but there remains a lot of work to be done, certainly if we are to find a tennis player as good as Andy Murray.

Encouragement for tennis needs to be implemented at grass-roots level. Children who develop a natural interest in the sport should be encouraged to pursue it. Tennis should also be made more available in State schools, which will give us a wider birth of talent to choose from.

As a nation we rely too heavily on Andy Murray to carry our hopes and expectations on his shoulders, he could have easily lost his match against Gilles Simon in the Davis Cup, a set and break of serve down, he looked finished, physically and mentally, having already battled through two days of tennis against France's top players. When he eventually retires, British tennis will look very sparse without our sporting talisman.


Anyone for Tennis?

Meg Munn   |   July 16, 2015    5:01 PM ET

Read More: tennis, sport, local

As Wimbledon finishes tennis courts will experience their usual surge, beginners, children and youngsters inspired by the stars, along with older people spurred on to dust off their tennis racket. But despite the continuing popularity of the Wimbledon tournament in truth the country struggles to maintain current levels of participation.

This is curious given that tennis is accessible to people of all ages and to people with disabilities. Indeed one bright spot is the growth of wheelchair tennis, with stars such as British Wimbledon Champion Jordanne Whiley leading the way. This has led Wimbledon to announce that after a number of years holding doubles events it is to introduce singles competitions from next year.

For many non-playing spectators interest in the sport has been with the elusive search for a British player capable of winning Wimbledon. This led in turn to the tennis authorities making a significant investment of time and resources to develop the elite performance side of the game and encourage and support up and coming players. Increased participation was encouraged, particularly by young people, with the view that by doing so the chances of finding a national champion was increased.

But this focus on elite tennis meant the sport retained the aura of being for the better off, and indeed in some areas it was not accessible to everyone. As an example, in Sheffield a map of tennis clubs shows them clustered predominantly around the wealthier suburbs with nothing but run down park courts in much of the rest of the city. Youngsters from less well-off families can still be put off by the attitude of a number of tennis clubs - including an insistence on a particular dress code. But many tennis clubs do provide family membership fees, or reduced child fees, that mean it is cheaper for a child to play tennis than to go swimming once a week. But you won't know unless you ask, and if you have already been put off . . .

As the financial squeeze on councils grew over many years the local park tennis courts fell into disrepair. To counter this decline the 'Tennis For Free' organisation was set up. One of its founders is the entertainer and tennis enthusiast Tony Hawks, who loudly championed its simple philosophy. If you can take a couple of jumpers and a football and play in the park for nothing why should it cost money to play tennis?

With a relatively small investment a coach can be allocated to a particular tennis venue, and rackets and balls purchased. The coach then has to generate interest and persuade children and adults to come and have a go, hopefully by playing the game some will fall in love with the sport. Generating enthusiasm can in turn lead to a local group of tennis players and supporters who can manage the site with the opportunity for anyone to play for free.

Following the introduction of a new Chief Executive, Michael Downey, in 2013 the Lawn Tennis Association changed its focus much more toward playing locally for fun. There has been improved working with Tennis for Free and the Tennis Foundation, a tennis charity which aims to make tennis accessible and inclusive to all communities. Each summer for the last few years Great British Tennis weekends have been held, with local tennis clubs inviting the public to attend and have a go. However whilst this activity is welcome it has been an uphill struggle as numbers playing regularly have declined.

Most kids - boys and girls - will at some time kick a ball about. We should aim to get them to hit a ball about too. Ensuring that all communities have easy access to courts is important - in France even small villages have their football pitch and tennis court. But it's not just about encouraging children to take up tennis. I got my first racket when aged only 5 or 6 but I still play and expect to do so for at least the next 20 years. I've certainly played with people nearing their 80th birthday - it is that sort of a game. So tempting back adults who stopped earlier in their lives needs to be given greater priority.

Great British Tennis weekends are a good start but more effort is required by all of us who enjoy this sport. The Lawn Tennis Association needs to continue to expand its efforts with local authorities, schools and charities to get more people out there playing tennis, enjoying it and coming back week after week.

From Huge Serves, to All the Break Points: Looking Back at Wimbledon 2015...

Sam Seddon   |   July 16, 2015    2:40 PM ET

At the start of The Championships we looked at some of the great new innovations being served up from a technology perspective at Wimbledon this year. Now that the dust has settled on another fabulous fortnight we can look back at some of these in action and the brilliant insights they bought us.

The combination of advanced analytics and cognitive computing has bought some great analysis and insight to the Wimbledon digital output. 2015, saw us providing information from each court, and every match at SW19;giving the fans added perspective, as well as plenty of new stats and tennis milestones to discuss over a Pimms on Murray Mount at the end of the day.

For example, did you know that Australian, Sam Groth holds the record for The Championship's fastest serve at 147mph this year? That the top four fastest servers from the men's draw have an average height of just over 6ft 6"? Or that Roger Federer hit his 2,600th career winner against Giles Simon?
Wimbledon is brought to life by the stories that take place during The Championships, and what are stories without context? The quality of the tennis in 2015 has been mirrored by the data and insight that we've been able to provide over the last fortnight.

There were marathon rallies in both the men's and women's draws: 34 and 33 respectively; we saw 104 straight up winners in Sunday's gentlemen's final but despite winning the battle 58/46 Federer still couldn't overcome Djokovic: and the key to Saturday's Ladies' final was Serena Williams' ruthless execution on break point - she managed a 63% conversion rate, compared to Garbine Mugurza only winning 30%.

Helping Wimbledon stay on top of its game and remain the premier tennis tournament in the world and one of Britain's showcase sporting events is our job, and serving up uninterrupted access to real-time Wimbledon match records and trends allows The AELTC to showcase the benefits of big data and analytics solutions in real-time.

From a sporting, but also business perspective, The Championships this year have shown us that both can significantly benefit from access to large amounts of data and the analytics capabilities to use these insights.

For Wimbledon, these capabilities allow it to continuously enrich the fan experience by providing a comprehensive and engaging digital platform featuring instant access to video, scores, articles, interviews and breaking tournament news. While this is unique to Wimbledon, the underlying message is clear to see: by having access to a scalable and secure IT infrastructure, twinned with access to big data and analytics capabilities, businesses can take success to new levels.

A combination of advanced analytics and cognitive computing has bought unprecedented analysis and awareness to Wimbledon digital experience in 2015 and we look forward to advancing the Wimbledon story further next year. In the meantime, given the wonderful array of stats and insights, we've seen over the last fortnight, perhaps it was fitting that both the men's and ladies' champions for 2015 are statistically the world number 1s in their respective fields.

Seven Days in Hell

Lucy Karsten   |   July 16, 2015   11:39 AM ET

Selfie sticks are banned at Wimbledon, but selfies abound. Photos are taken holding containers of strawberries, in courtside seats, in front of pitchers of watered-down pimms. But one of the biggest photographic-draws is a small plaque, on the brick-wall outside court 18, which commemorates the longest match in history: an 11 hr 5 minute battle between the American John Isner and the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut.


The match itself took place in 2010 over 3 days, and was ultimately won by Isner. The very possibility of its existence relies on the fact that, at Wimbledon, there is no tie-break in the last set. Rather, the match continues until one opponent has won by a margin of two games. As Andy Samberg puts it: "So theoretically a match there could go for eternity."

The Isner/ Mahut match has its own wikipedia page, a Wimbledon plaque and thousands of tourist-taken commemorative selfies, but it has not yet merited that most pertinent of tributes: a mockumentary. Which brings us neatly to 7 Days in Hell, a new HBO parody starring Andy Samberg and Kit Harrington, and written by Murray Miller. The clue is in the title, really: it covers a tennis match at Wimbledon that lasts for 7 days.


7 Days in Hell is a 45 minute delight, filled with the type of buoyant exuberance that Samberg is famous for. It is an ensemble piece - Will Forte, Fred Armisen, Lena Dunham and Mary Steenburgen all appear and it brings to mind that brief period, when Sarah Silverman, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck et al created 'I'm f**king Matt Damon', and Hollywood for a second looked like it might be kinda fun.

It takes as its basic premise the intensity of the first Bjorn/ McEnroe 1980 Wimbledon final, ramps up the timeline to surpass Isner/Mahut and adds a surfeit of penises. (Some human, some animated). "Well, look, you gotta utilize the fact that you're on HBO, that's how we looked at it," Andy Samberg states.

Andy Samberg and Murray Miller, who, sweetly, have been 'buddies since Summer camp', originally planned to write and produce a feature film, set in the world of tennis. Unable to get that project off the ground, they utilized Miller's HBO relationship (he is a writer on Girls) to pitch 7 Days in Hell: a 30 for 30-style parody. The constraints of the form turn out to be invaluable: there is a robust comedy to the piece that belies its simple conceit.


It is McEnroe/ Borg Fire and Ice married to the Isner/Mahut match, if Isner was an abandoned baby, adopted by the Williams' family, grown up to be the ex-world no.2 turned underwear designer turned felon, and Mahut was an indefatigablely stupid Englishman. It is an ESPN 30 for 30, if ESPN revelled in Taiwanese Swedish prison orgy animations. It is a generous, big-hearted wink to those who love tennis and those who don't, utilising world-famous personages both from within the tennis world and without it.

The excellence of the comedy lies, as always, with its attention to detail. Directed by former SNL writer Jake Szymanski, pains have been taken to replicate the look and feel of its genre - a verisimilitude created not only by employing some of the world's most famous tennis commentators (McEnroe and Evert give stand-out performances), but also by shooting several scenes using vintage cameras.


In the McEnroe/ Borg Fire and Ice ESPN documentary we see the great love and mutual respect between two men at the top of the game, and pains are taken to show McEnroe and Borg as two sides to the same coin. 7 Days in Hell flips this premise on its head, in as many ways as possible, yet it also pays homage to the fact that McEnroe and Borg never won a Major after turning 25 - and here this idea is taken to its preposterous, absurdist end.

A Roundup of Wimbledon 2015 on the Women's Tour

David Deady   |   July 13, 2015    3:04 PM ET

'What an athlete, what a role model, what a woman!' J.K. Rowling emphatically declared on Twitter, bestowing absolute congratulations on Serena Williams, the 2015 Wimbledon champion. Notching up her 21st grand slam triumph, and third of the year, Serena is unquestionably the story of this year's competition. Dominating in so many categories and achieving history by the handful, she etched her path to glory by battling nerves, expectation and form in typical supreme fashion.

So with the illustrious tournament now over, and the gleaming Venus Rosewater Dish firmly back in Serena's hands, let's take a look at some of the more rousing stories from Wimbledon 2015 on the women's side.

Most predictable moment- Serena defeats Sharapova 6-2 6-4

This matchup is hyped up every time Maria and Serena meet in a draw. Two of the most consistent performers on the WTA for over a decade now, with great credentials apiece and a fiery tenacity to compete, it should be a mouth-watering prospect but unfortunately never lives up to the billing. In terms of this particular match itself, you could see Sharapova almost trying too hard throughout; she has nothing else to give but her A-game but this is rarely allowed to shine against Serena. Pummelling returns, throwing down aces and battering Maria in every aspect of her game for the majority of the match- Serena was her usual merciless self. Unfortunately, there is nothing compelling here. On a technical front even, it seems their games no longer correspond competitively, with Sharapova's more awkwardly mechanical groundstrokes and serves capitulating under the continued power from Serena's organic strokes.

Most shocking moment- Heather Watson almost beating Serena

Ben Rothenberg and Courtney Nguyen, two of my favourite tennis commentators, once spoke of a phenomenon they called 'Serena vs. the field.' They argued that Serena, especially in early rounds, can potentially lose, not necessarily to a seed or form player, but an ethereal someone who they can never put their finger on. It happened in Wimbledon 2014 at the hands of Alize Cornet, in the 2012 French Open to Virginie Razzano, and almost here again, in the third round, to Great Britain's own Heather Watson. Buoyed by the Centre Court crowd and displaying apt defensive skill, the world number 59 managed to exasperate Serena and come close to the famous win. This is, however, where the story ended. While a few have indeed managed to pull off the victory, many others have merely come close. As was the case here, Serena found a way to win ugly. It does pretty much sum up this tournament though; as dominant as Williams was, the most shocking moment was someone almost beating her.

Best match- Muguruza defeats Radwanska 6-2 3-6 6-3

Merely personal preference here I think as there was no real signature match from the championship this year. Marking a return to form for Agnieszka after a fairly disappointing run in 2015, this semi-final was a wonderful display of both clout and guile. Muguruza started powerfully, quickly taking the advantage but Radwanska inevitably managed to work her way in with signature voodoo like skills, pulling the Spaniard to all corners. In the end, however, Garbine composed herself, stepped up her level and came through impressively in three sets. It was a match of shared high quality, but also had its moments of drama and spectacle too.

Biggest upset- None

A few seeds tumbled before the second week but there was nothing surprising about each of these losses. Last year's runner-up, Eugenie Bouchard almost inevitably went down to unheralded Duan Yingying 7-6 6-4 in round one, further signalling her descending spiral, having lost 10 of her last 12 matches. Though she cited injury, which may have been the case, I doubt many people pegged her to make the same run as 12 months previous. World number two Simona Halep was edged by former random Serena-conqueror Jana Cepelova 7-5 4-6 3-6 in round one also. Again the story was of Halep's recent lack of good form also. Personally, I think she still doesn't have the experience to win in these sorts of situations, when her form and confidence has dipped, but it will come with time. Finally, Jelena Jankovic's 3-6 7-5 6-4 win over defending champion Petra Kvitova in the third round caused little outcry. There were no conspiracy theories here; Jankovic has considerable pedigree to her name and Kvitova can lose or win to anyone on the tour on any given day.

Sub-plot of the championship- Garbine Muguruza

While Serena governed headlines, it was the charming run of Garbine Muguruza to the final that piqued further interest. Finding her feet both on grass and in the women's game, this utterly likeable Spaniard, who had been more at home on clay before this week, captivated the public in interviews and thrilled them on the court. Not only physically talented, boasting big groundstrokes and an aggressive mindset, she also possesses mental toughness and awareness that belies her 21 years. Her press conferences proved this, as she divulged how nervous she got in big moments and how conscious she was of her game, but never panicked, resolving to find ways to win and never give up. Garbine is an exciting prospect for the WTA and I look forward to seeing how she progresses.

Final thoughts

It was a strange but similar Wimbledon, both transitory and immobile in equal measure. Rising players continued their solid years, with nods to Timea Bacsinszky, Madison Keys, Belinda Bencic and Muguruza, showing both panache and consistency, navigating the ups and downs quite efficiently. However, it was Serena who still reigned supreme, as she has done for so long now. I think it marks the strength of the tour however. Serena is the best and should be wining most of the time but seeing some rising stars find footholds is encouraging. Wimbledon 2015 belongs to Serena Williams though. It will be interesting to see how much longer the 33 year old can sustain this utter dominance but, if current form suggests anything, I think she's far from finished.

Come on Tennis - Let's Get the Women Playing Five Sets!

Gordon Bryan   |   July 13, 2015    1:27 PM ET

Every time Wimbledon comes around, one question that's always raised is why do women play 3 set matches while the men play 5 sets? Seems like a reasonable question..?

Well, it *is* a reasonable question, which became even more pertinent when the prize money for the women was raised to the same level as that for the men.

I've written about equality in sport many times, from the boat race, to the marathon, which have been solved, to the decathlon which hasn't, and in my mind this tennis question sits fair and square in the 'hasn't been solved' group.

So, why do women only play 3 sets? Surely it doesn't go back to the crusty old thing about men deciding that women aren't capable? Well, sort of, but not really - men's and women's tennis are run by separate organisations (following a revolution started by women players), so they are hardly like to hold such a nonsense sexist view.

No, the real reason is down to more pragmatic reasons, although I believe the solution could be equally as pragmatic.

For starters, let's remember that the men only play 3 sets themselves outside the 4 Grand Slam events. This is where the pragmatic reasons come in - scheduling and money, framed in the boundaries of TV scheduling.

Take Wimbledon, for example. Held over 2 weeks, it's always a bit of a jam to get everything in, and that's not even accounting for the rain breaks which are a usual feature at some point in the fortnight.

The argument is that the Grand Slam organisers do not want to have to add to that burden by lengthening the women's matches to the same 5 sets that the men play.
It's also argued that pretty much every sport nowadays is looking to have shorter formats, to be more consumable for people watching on TV.

Hmm. While these are both truisms, I'm not sure either is a reason that could not be dealt with.

If we take the argument about shorter formats of sport for TV, well part of the appeal of the men's 5 setters is precisely because it *is* the longer format, which combined with the scoring system in tennis, can make for gripping drama as the momentum swings back and forth between the players, and a player seemingly on the ropes can come all the way back to win.

You do get that occasionally in the women's game, but it's more noticeable when it happens, just because it does happen so rarely, and that's because the 3 set format doesn't lend itself to that kind of outcome. So, the 5 set match is actually more of a sellable product than the 3 setter.

As for the argument of logistics - nope, I'm not having that one either!
Wimbledon has the full range of events, men's and women's doubles, mixed doubles, juniors for both sexes, and wheelchair events which they are rolling out even more.

They don't need to have all those formats, and if something had to give in order to accommodate the women playing 5 sets, then so be it, in my view.

Back in 2013 the head of women's tennis said she was happy for the women to play 5 sets, they were just waiting to be asked by the Grand Slams.

That seems a cop out to me. How about if they sent an email to the 4 Grand Slam organisations, and said that in 5 years time they expected all of them to be the 5 set format, or they would ban their members from taking part?

If they then made one of their tour events a 5 setter to see how it went, although the legal wrangling would no doubt have lawyers rubbing their hands, I suspect the momentum for the Slams to then go to 5 sets would be unstoppable.

About time too, and the perennial question could finally be moved to the 'solved' column!

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Elitism: The Curse of The British Summer

Grant Feller   |   July 12, 2015   12:21 PM ET

When I was growing up I wanted to be the American tennis champion Jimmy Connors. To be honest, I wanted to be sweary, stroppy, petulant John McEnroe (which I kind of was anyway) but my mum preferred his more charming, coiffured rival so Jimmy it was.

Anyway I saw a quote recently attributed to Jimmy in which he described the kind of attitude to tennis we have in the UK compared to his homeland: 'New Yorkers love it when you spill your guts out there. Spill your guts at Wimbledon and they make you stop and clean it up.'

I'm not quite sure whether he was being witty or rudely dismissive - he often wavered between the two. But he's right. There is a certain decorum at Wimbledon - something we treasure. Matters in SW19 are conducted in the 'right manner', there are codes that are rigidly enforced, when you walk on to the immaculate green grass you are somehow representing the soul of the sport.

Brash is bad. Loud is banned. Rebellion is out.

Rules, you see. That's what tennis is really all about. And that's why, despite the tens of millions of pounds pumped into British tennis, there are no new Andy Murrays on the horizon and only 700,000 or so proper players in this country. Hamstrung by our determination to keep tennis for an elite who can barely play it properly, the sport in Britain is in crisis because it is too codified and tame. And I know that because I just tried to join my local club.

It boasts three beautiful grass courts, several hard and a few astro with floodlights. They are hardly ever used. So I thought I'd pop along on 'club night' to get a better feel of things. Some welcomed me, others were a little suspicious, perhaps because of my age. At 47 I was by far the youngest there. The club chairman was there as was the deputy, the treasurer, the membership secretary, someone I recognised from the papers and two titled ladies. They had set the club up, they told me, because they hadn't like the elitism of the last one.

Anyway, if I wanted to join and use the courts that were - they admitted - nearly always vacant, I'd need to pay close to £200 a year and could only bring a guest three times a year. I couldn't play before 9am, I'd have to adhere to the dress code, I would need to be interviewed by the club secretary and I would need to peruse the rule book before I joined. Hopefully, I could also invite more people 'my age' to join because it would 'jolly well liven things up'.

In truth, this was the third club I'd looked at around West London and each one was pretty similar. It's not the snobbishness that most upsets me, it's the sheer waste of fantastic facilities that we have in this country. Tennis is a sport for those with money - just the other week a survey revealed that it costs more than £1m to turn a child into a champion - and those without money are excluded. Intimidated even.

It's not just private clubs. Municipal courts - of which there are hundreds - are in such a parlous state as to be unrecognisable as proper tennis courts. Strewn with rubbish, carpeted in moss and used as makeshift basketball courts and dog toilets - and councils have the nerve to charge £10 an hour for the privilege to use them. £10 an hour! An entire day at Wimbledon is slightly more than double that. And if you try to sneak on without paying (and remember, they're hardly ever being used), you're liable to be fined £50. Which I'm sure the boss of British tennis could afford, on his £434,000 annual salary.

There are occasional ventures that try to encourage rather than discourage. The Great British Tennis Weekend, for instance, sees private clubs across the country open their doors for three - yes, three - weekends a year so that all those unfortunates peeking through the wire gates can get a taste of what it's all about. Except that the clubs tend to allow the great unwashed in only for an hour, while lunch is being served presumably.

No other sport, with the possible exception of golf, is treated as if it was a precious remnant of the British Empire - laden with rules, reassuringly expensive and to be enjoyed only by a certain type of person.

White, middle class and elitist. The clue's in the name of the governing body, LTA. Lawn Tennis Association. Lawn?! Gentility does not breed champions - Connors and McEnroe were proof of that - but it does mean wonderful cucumber sandwiches.

  |   July 11, 2015    3:31 PM ET

A Murray will fight for Britain’s only chance at Wimbledon glory today – but it is older brother Jamie rather than Andy this time round.

Jamie, 29, and his doubles partner John Peers from Australia go head to head with Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau on Centre Court for the men’s doubles crown.

jamie murray

Jamie Murray will play in the final today

The men's doubles final will take place today at 2pm. It will be covered on BBC Two from 5.55pm, live on the BBC website and live on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Younger brother Andy was yesterday blown away by SW19 legend Roger Federer in three sets in the men’s singles semi-finals, preventing a dream Murray singles and doubles finals appearance.

Tennis fans will also be treated to the women’s singles final today, which pits 20-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.

If Andy had gone through it would have been the first time brothers had been in the finals of the singles and doubles at the same Wimbledon for 109 years.

Asked after his crushing defeat to Federer if he would be in the stands to watch Jamie, Andy said: "I may come and be here and see what the score is.

"If it's close to finishing, I'll maybe try to go out and watch the last game or two.

"But I find it very, very difficult watching. I would love to but I get extremely nervous.

"I'll maybe ask Jamie if he would like me to come, if he feels like he would rather I wasn't there or I was there. I'll see what he wants."

In the women’s final, 33-year-old Williams will be seeking to hold all four Grand Slams with a sixth win at Wimbledon.

But 6ft world number 20 Muguruza, who was born in Venezuela and lives in Barcelona, has impressed against Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska to get to the final.

The 21-year-old said she is confident she can beat Williams - despite previous doubts over how the Spaniard would perform on grass – and if she does a star will be born.

Should Williams win she will move within one of Steffi Graff’s record of 22 major women’s titles.

World number one Novak Djokovic will try to prevent Federer from winning a record eighth Wimbledon title tomorrow.

Below are some pictures of Jamie Murray in action over the years:

Eve Hartley   |   July 10, 2015    9:04 AM ET

*... not really.

Two lucky tennis fans who won a VIP trip to Wimbledon were shocked to find their chauffeur was none other than tennis legend John McEnroe.

What's more, McEnroe shared with his new charges just who he has tipped to lift the historic championship trophy on Centre Court.

The pair were filmed sitting in the vehicle waiting for their mystery driver to appear, with one whispering: "It's all a bit suspicious this isn't it?"

john mcenroe

John McEnroe tips Andy Murray to win Wimbledon

The semi-final of Wimbledon begins on the 10th July and sees Andy Murray face old time favourite and seven time champion Rodger Federer.

To the competition winners' shock and amusement, McEnroe jumped into the driver's seat, exclaiming: "I'm not used to driving on this side of the road!"

Before the VIP taxi ride, the all-star was apprehensive about not being recognised and said to the camera: "These guys wanted a VIP drive - and here I am, the VIP driver.

john mcenroe

Not your average taxi journey...

"Lets just hope they remember who I was... or who I am for that matter!"

The ex-Wimbledon champion also disscussed his views of the British player Andy Murray and tipped him to win the entire championship.


McEnroe infamously made a name for himself in the Tennis championships for his hot-headed rants and swearing at umpires.

Wimbledon 2015 has been cracking down on swearing and British player Liam Broady faced a hefty fine of £1,500 for swearing in his first round match.