You Gotta Be Pretty to Play

Are Attractive Female Tennis Players More Successful? An Empirical Analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2015.
This article caught my attention because it exactly what i am researching. The article is about a study that analyzed the relationship between physical attractiveness and sporting performance in female tennis players. It studies whether the attractiveness of these female athletes impacts their success in terms of prize money that is earned and their probability of winning. They did this study by investigating professional female tennis players who were ranked in the top 100 of the tennis world ranking. The study used a logit model which showed that the larger the difference in physical attractiveness, the higher the probability of winning for the more attractive tennis player in individual matches. These findings indicated that the higher the physical attractiveness of a female tennis player, the higher the prize money earned in a single season as well as in the whole career.

“Lastly, there is a link between the physical attractiveness of female athletes and online popularity, media coverage endorsement and fit as an endorser In particular, ‘feminine’ sports such as figure skating, exhibition swimming and tennis are more popular in the mass media than ‘masculine’ sports such as rugby. Moreover, attractiveness has become increasingly utilized in promoting and selling ‘feminine’ sports”.


Ireland v England - IRB Women's Rugby World Cup 2014...PARIS, FRANCE - AUGUST 13:  Emma Croker of England is tackled by Jenny Murphy of Ireland during the IRB Women's Rugby World Cup semi-final match between Ireland and England at Stade Jean Bouin on August 13, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

According to this section of the article, the physical attractiveness of a female athlete determines how successful she is in terms of endorsements, and the amount of press she gets. Also, pretty women who play “pretty” feminine sports have more opportunity in mass media, regardless of their skills. Is a female athlete really considered less attractive is she plays a more “masculine” sport?

This hit home with me. I grew up as a tomboy, very outdoorsy and very into sports. However, I am also a girly girl when it comes to appearance, makeup, and fashion. I am also a girly girl who plays rugby. I’m the girl who takes off her cleats after a game and puts on strappy heels. Its discouraging to learn that a woman could be an extremely skilled figure skater, but she has less of a chance of being endorsed because she is not physically attractive in the eyes of society. It’s really upsetting to know that women are viewed differently and deemed less attractive for playing a more masculine sport. Its also upsetting to know that they have less of a chance of being endorsed or being popular in mass media because of the “masculine” sport that they play regardless of whether they are more or less attractive physically. I understand looks are important in the advertising industry, however, I feel when it comes to athletics one should be judged more on skill. It comes to show that not only does the physical attractiveness of a woman effect their job applications, earnings and  careers in the corporate world, but also their sporting success.

“The former female tennis player Anna Kournikova is probably one of the most beautiful athletes and has attracted a lot of media attention although she has never won an individual professional tennis tournament. Moreover, Kournikova’s physical attractiveness is continually associated with her rather unsatisfactory sporting performance, so that even a poker starting hand was named after her. The starting hand Ace/King was nicknamed after her, due to the same initial letters, but mainly because each ‘looks great but never wins”.


This was the first statement made in this article. This was what immediately caught my attention and made me want to continue reading. What I got from this paragraph is that although Kournikova is not one of the best, she is still better known due to her beauty and not her skill. However, the opposite is done to her, her beauty is blamed for her lack of skill. According to the media, her physical appearance is why she has never won an individual tournament.

I am not a tennis fan. I have never followed the sport and I don’t know many players. However, I do know about Ana Kournikova. I assumed she was one of the best because she is one of the only other tennis players that I hear about on the media other than the Williams sisters. After reading this I learned that she is in fact not one of the best. Moreover, she is known and she is popular in the eyes of society because she is attractive. In my opinion, physical appearance should not be one of the reasons why you are deemed successful when it comes to sports.

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