Grand Slam champion admits she enjoys watching men’s tennis more than female stars

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka having fun in Melbourne
Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka having fun in Melbourne

Tennis has long been a sport that has found a perfect symmetry between the men’s and women’s game, yet world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka has made some comments that are certain to stir a debate.

The Australian Open champion is in Madrid as she prepares to play in a tournament that will feature both men’s and women’s matches on the schedule each day.

Yet she may have been a little too honest in her pre-tournament press conference when she admitted would rather watch the men in action than the women.

“I’m not one to watch a lot of tennis, I prefer to watch men’s tennis than women’s, I feel there’s more logic and it’s more interesting to watch,” said Sabalenka while laughing.

Her comments are hardly controversial, but they are likely to produce a feisty reaction from those promoting the women’s game.

The battle for media coverage of the women’s game has long been a hot topic, with top male players such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal always commanding more interest for websites and newspapers.

This has been especially significant since Serena Williams stepped away from the sport in 2022, with the champions that have followed her not attracting the same level of global superstardom.

World No 1 Iga Swiatek and No 3 Elena Rybakina lack the celebrity status of Serena and her sister Venus Williams, with Sabalenka also battling to raise her profile above the tennis community, with stars like Emma Raducanu creating interest among bigger audiences despite her lack of success on the court in the last couple of years.

READ MORE: Emma Raducanu tipped to take time away from tennis as schedule plan is discussed

Yet the always-open Belarusian star has admitted any hype around a new ‘Big Three’ in women’s tennis featuring Switaek, Rybanika and herself is not credible given her current form.

“I feel like I’ve lowered the level a little within this hypothetical’ Big Three’, this last month feels more like a Big Two,” she said with a smile.

“However, I’m happy to be part of this group and these things. They continue to play like this.

“I don’t watch their games, no: I feel like I’ve played against them a lot and that, if I face one of them again, my coach will show me images of the games to analyze and prepare me.

“I don’t think it’s about having confidence, it’s about being ready to achieve everything. The important thing is to be ready and prepared for big battles.

“The important thing is to stay in these games, fight until the end. I will fight for every point and, if I have opportunities, take advantage of them. That’s my mindset going into the clay court season.”

The women’s game is in a period of flux, amid talks over a new global tennis tour that could be backed by Saudi Arabian money.

The WTA Finals will be played in the Saudi capital Riyadh in November, featuring the top eight singles players and doubles teams, and the event will also be played in Saudi in 2025 and 2026, with tennis icon Martina Navratilova not impressed by the direction the women’s game is moving in.

“We’re going to Saudi Arabia which is about as big a change as you can make, except for maybe going to North Korea,” said Navratilova, who says she has no plan to work at the tournament as a pundit.

“Chris Evert and I have made our views clear on that, but the players have made their choices. We’ll see how things work out.

“I heard players say they ‘don’t want to be political’. Going to Saudi is about as political as you can get.

“Welcome to sport. Sports is political and has been at the forefront of social change. I don’t see how anything happens there without the blessing of MBS (Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi ruler).

“He decides what goes and what doesn’t. We’re a bit egotistical to think we can make a difference, but who knows?

“The players have to honour that, they’re the ones competing. We’re not affected by it. We’re not going there to play.”