By Andrew Jones
(October 16, 2013) NEW YORK, NY – Despite the absence of the Williams sisters, Sloane Stephens, and Jamie Hampton to name a few, tennis was still represented at the 34th annual “Women in Sports” Awards, presented by the Women’s Sports Foundation Wednesday evening down on Wall Street. Billie Jean King and Mary Carillo were in attendance, as well as ESPN Wimbledon and U.S. Open host Hannah Storm. King founded the Women’s Sports Foundation back in 1974.
A slew of great women’s athletes, including Olympic legends Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes, Missy Franklin, Aimee Mullins and Nastia Liukin, along with greats such as Nancy Lieberman and Annika Sorenstam attended the event, graced the event, which was hosted by the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Carillo, the ubiquitous commentator, announcer, and reporter for a myriad of sports outside of tennis, shared her thoughts about the lack of media attention the tournaments outside of the Grand Slams receive nowadays.
“It’s amazing to me, when I first started covering tennis 35 years ago, there were a lot of people in the press room that I knew,” Carillo said. “And the newspaper business has changed so much, that’s the fact. There are people who are paying their own way to blog and to tweet. More and more magazines are just taking AP stories, they are just taking wire services stories. A lot of people who cover tennis well, they beg to go to Wimbledon, and they have to pay their way over, where they have to rent a house for two weeks. It has been very, very difficult.”
Carillo also shared thoughts on how tennis’ sponsors and the focus on the four Slams have diminished the prestige of other great events around the world, as well as the confusion of the WTA’s Premier 5/Mandatory structure in comparison to the ATP’s simple Masters 1000 series.
“There’s all kinds of names,” she said. “It killed me when the Italian, the Canadian Open, the German Open, these were national championships, and all of a sudden, we got rid of that name. Don’t call it the Italian Open anymore, now it’s the so-so, the (BNL D’Italia). And you’re like, ‘Wait a minute!’ Sometimes we marginalize the events by adding names like Premier. And you’re thinking what does that mean? Does that strictly relate to the prize money offered. So I agree with you that it could be confusing.”
Despite Serena Williams‘ tremendous year, the Sportswoman of the Year award went to the teenage swimming sensation Franklin, who is also a big tennis fan and participated at the 2012 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day event.