Maria Sharapova: Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Maria Sharapova Tenniis

Maria Sharapova has been banned by the International Tennis Federation for two years.

Sharapova, one of the world’s highest-paid female athletes and a five-time grand slam champion, was banned by the ITF because she committed a doping violation through the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs.

The news has come as a shock to many of her fans and supporters. On one hand, many people  are protesting the decision. Sharapova herself recently posted on her Facebook account to state, “I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension.” On the other hand, people are blaming her for the sentence. Regardless of where people stand on the matter, one question continues to haunt them.

Did she know it was illegal?

Sharapova has an excuse. She says she simply didn’t open the emails from ITF that explicitly stated that the drug was banned. ITF themselves cannot prove that Sharapova knew about the ban. Perhaps that’s the reason she got a two-year penalty, rather than a four-year ban.

While Sharapova’s excuse may well have convinced many of her fans to stand behind her, not everyone is in a particular hurry to rush over to her defence.

Is Gender Equality in Tennis A Myth?

 

Tennis Umpire

Blatant sexism and gender equality issues in tennis are as real as the game itself. But not everyone thinks so. It’s 2016, the critics suggest. A lot has been achieved to maintain equality. No one can be sexist and get away with it now.

But every now and then, they are proven wrong. Every so often, there is a statement from the tennis elite which is shocking and exposes the parochial mindsets of some of the industry’s leading figures.

Two months ago, it was Raymond Moore, the CEO of BNP Paribas Open, who brazenly declared that women, in tennis, “ride on the coattails” of the success of their male counterparts.

This time, it’s the Madrid Open owner and 2013 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, Ion Tiriac. The Romanian billionaire, who incidentally owns one of the few tournaments that offers equal pay to female players, suggested he was not too happy with the way things were. Women, according to Tiriac, don’t deserve equal pay.

But that’s not half as shocking as what he said next.

As if to justify his outright sexism, he went on to describe, in his own twisted way, how much he likes women. “I like, very much more, women than men,” Tiriac said in a New York Times interview. “All my life, I’ve done that. The longer the legs theirs are, the more beautiful I think they are… But I don’t see the equal prize money being the status.”

Coming from Tiriac, that is high praise indeed. Female tennis players must be ecstatic with joy and will probably rush to thank him after they, in Moore’s words, “go down every night on [their] knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born.” Or not?

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