The use of different tennis balls for men’s and women’s matches in New York has sparked a debate about inequality
“Oh, my God,” said Iga Swiatek, smiling, during a press conference at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. A question had struck a nerve and for a split second she deliberated between whether to speak or hold her tongue. She chose to respond with full force.
The topic was, on the surface, mundane: whether she liked the Wilson US Open tennis balls. But it was loaded with subtext. The US Open is the only grand slam tournament that provides different balls for the men’s and women’s players. While the men use Wilson’s US Open extra duty balls, women use Wilson US Open regular duty balls which are enveloped by a thinner and less fluffy felt cover, leading to a faster, more aerodynamic ball, and consternation among some players.