US Open: Petko—"Women Have to be Tougher Than Men"


PETKO—”WOMEN HAVE TO BE TOUGHER JUST TO BE VIEWED AS STABLE”: German Andrea Petkovic, who beat Monica Puig in a third-set tiebreak to reach the third round, is one of the best thinkers in tennis. Here in New York, she reflected on the testy question of women’s emotions, the ways in which female athletes are perceived, and how all of this effects our impressions of Hillary Clinton.

Petkovic noted, “Everybody gets emotional. The women just have to be more aware of this. They have to be tougher than a man, just in order to be perceived as tough.

Maria Sharapova probably is the only woman that’s viewed as really, really tough. Serena shows some emotions, but Maria had to work each and every match for ten years, being mentally strong each match, for that reputation.”

And men? “I saw Roger [Federer] throwing a racket,” Petko said. “All the tough men throw a racquet, except Rafa. [But] I never saw Maria [do that] in [all] my life, which is amazing.

There’s a different perception about emotional women and emotional men. In order not to be crucified, the women are letting emotion get in the way of things. They have to be tougher compared to men, just to be viewed as mentally stable. Which is not fair.

And when you have a bad day, it doesn’t necessarily mean you had hormones going. Sometimes you wake up and don’t feel well. Or you had a bad dream, or your cat died, or your boyfriend broke up [with you]. But, if you are a guy, your girlfriend can also dump you. There are immediate reasons. [People always say], ‘She has hormones.’ ‘Maybe she’s having her period, whatever.’ [But] some women are making a mistake by using that as an excuse. We have to watch out, [and] it’s not only in tennis—it’s definitely in politics. If a woman cries, she will be done for life, [even if] when she cries, perhaps it’s when someone in her family has died. But men, showing emotions is regarded as good for them.”

As for the differences between the men’s and women’s tours, Petkovic said, “The guys also have to go through a lot in order to become a top ATP player. They have to leave their family and travel a lot. They are not at home as much. They have to give up their youth…to become a top athlete. We do the same. The only difference is when we get pregnant. I haven’t heard of a guy getting pregnant yet. You never know—science is amazing nowadays. So, that’s the difference, it takes a year out of you. It’s like being injured once you are pregnant. Men also want to have families. But for a man, it’s easier to have a wife or girlfriend that’s pregnant. She can still travel around or stay at home. He doesn’t have to stop his career for a year. Roger [Federer, who has two sets of twins] is amazing.

I am a very emotional person. I am just trying to be an example, to show that you can also be tough and strong, even though you still show emotions. One doesn’t outdo the other.

Other women before us have achieved so much and we have grown so much. But there are still things that can be changed, and I am sure they will.  And we are all there to help.

Once you have emotions, just say, ‘I don’t know—I was emotional today. I was sad, I was disappointed. I don’t know my hormones.’ Because then you always give nutrition to these rumors.”

A reporter then looked at the big picture, noting that voters might soon be assessing Hillary Clinton, who is perceived by many to be overly controlled.

Petkovic replied, “Hillary’s a good example. Everybody thinks she looks like a machine, that … she has been so cold all these years. But if she had shown emotion in her career, she wouldn’t have gotten where she is now. She would never have been considered a strong candidate for President.

TOUCHÉ, SHE SAID: When Maria Sharapova was asked after her first-round win what rule in tennis she’d like to change, she suggested that players should be charged $2,500 for every medical timeout—an idea that brought to mind her recent flareup about Ana Ivanovic‘s MTO during their semifinal in Cincinnati. After the same question was put to Ivanovic, her answer seemed to target Sharapova—and countrywoman Jelena Jankovic, for good measure. “Some players take too long in between points, and some players rush too much,” Ivanovic said.

When Sharapova’s idea of charging for medical timeouts was mentioned to Ivanovic, she also responded in kind: “That’s a little bit harsh. But I’m sure many players would agree to pay if it’s about health. Maybe toilet breaks [should be charged]. That’s another story. But medical timeouts, I think players use them when they really need them.”

SCARY SIGHT: One of the greatest French players in recent times treacherously jaywalking across Manhattan’s traffic-infested Lexington Avenue.

SO SAD…THEN AGAIN, MAYBE NOT: Already in assorted New York hotels, you spot Himalayan piles of luggage belonging to players who—having lost in the first round—are headed home. “How sad,” you might say. Yes, but then again, first-round losers pocket $37,500.

BIG PRICE, LITTLE SHRIMP: Shrimp costs $30 a pound at the Grand Central Market. (Yes, if they were so inclined, US Open first-round losers could buy 1,250 pounds of shrimp.)

A VEXING QUESTION: Why in the world was the TV in the US Open media room showing a replay of the Jo-Willy TsongaAndy Murray match from last year’s tournament in Abu Dhabi?

A FERVENT PRAYER: US Open darling CiCi Bellis seems so sweet and real. So, puh-leez, let’s hope she doesn’t go Hollywood on us. (Somehow, we doubt she will.)

SAM AND LOUIS: On the 50th anniversary of Louis Armstrong Stadium, IT asked Sam Querrey for his thoughts about the site. “It’s my favorite court in the world,” Querrey responded. “I love playing out there. Got a good record there. It’s a fun court. People are down close … I’m always excited when I play out there.”

IT then informed Querrey that there are plans to knock down Armstrong Stadium after next year. “Oh. Well, what are you going to do?” he replied, to some laughter.

Following a line of thought, we noted that Querrey had been successful at UCLA’s Straus Center, which has since been closed down. “When Louis [Armstrong] is done, I’m done,” he joked.

More seriously, Querrey was enthusiastic about the idea of an ATP event returning to UCLA, since LA is currently lacking a top tournament. “I would love that,” he said. “I’m not going to try to convince them, because that’s a waste of time. But I hope they bring a tournament back there. I played really well there.”

TENNIS—SPORT OF A LIFETIME: In case you didn’t notice, Inside Tennis’s posts yesterday included a profile of a 15-year-old girl, CiCi Bellis, as well as John Isner‘s remembrance of the passing of a legendary 93-year-old icon, former Georgia coach Dan Magill.

GO FIGURE: Sloane Stephens hit 63 unforced errors in her second-round loss. Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska‘s average second-serve speed in her straight-set second-round defeat was 70mph.