Assuming the Australian Open can be taken as a guide, it appears we could finally have an answer to which gender has the ascendency in the age old battle of the sexes.
Many of the players are employing a dubious tactic to distract their opponent. So dubious, in fact, that it used to be prohibited and probably still should be.
In keeping with their English heritages, tennis once shared some standards with cricket. One of these was an all-white dress-code. While Wimbledon retains this tradition, most of the tournaments around the world have succumbed to modernity. In an attempt to add some style and flair – and improve sponsorship potential – the traditional attire has been discarded in favour of brightly coloured, branded shirts, shorts, skirts, dresses, shoes, caps and wrist bands.
Their colour of choice, which makes their approach questionable, is yellow.
In the exact opposite principle to a cricket sight screen, their aim is to have the ball blend into the background. Any delay in their opponent picking up the flight of the ball could prove advantageous. Some players are clad almost entirely in yellow, while others are more subtle, employing it only on the wrist band of their racquet hand where it is certain to catch their opponent’s eye.
Of those players to sport at least a splash of distracting yellow in their outfits, around three quarters have been male. The women seem yet to fully capitalise, instead favouring fashion before function when it comes to their choice of clothing.
But then again, it’s hard to conclude women have been outsmarted when they only have to play for half as long to win the same amount of prize money.
And really, what have the men gained? In a race to the bottom, their opponent implements the same tactic, the benefits cancel out, and all they have achieved is to make the task harder for everyone.
As with the AFL, the administration appears determined to approve of colour clashes. Who is in charge of these decisions? A committee, of course, but given the buck stops at the top and the vast majority of the directors and board members within Tennis Australia are males, it appears the men have served up a double-fault.
Game, set and match: women.