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Tennis Canada accused of sexism for Rogers Cup ad

The poster in question (Image: screen grab from SlutWalkTO’s Twitter feed)

The Rogers Cup is getting its fair share of attention for all the wrong reasons. With the tournament less than three weeks away, Tennis Canada and tournament organizers recently came under fire from local women’s groups for their use of the L-word—“ladies”—in a poorly conceived marketing campaign that plastered the slogan, “Come for the ladies, stay for the legends” on posters all over the city.

The posters in question, which featured female superstars Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams showing off their fierce two-handed backhands as all-time greats John McEnroe and Andre Agassi pump their fists in appreciation, have since been removed, and Tennis Canada has issued an apology.

In fairness to Tennis Canada, “ladies” is a common term in the tennis lexicon. At Wimbledon—arguably the most recognizable tennis event in the world—the women’s portion of the tourney is formally referred to as the “ladies draw,” and closer to home, the Toronto Ladies Tennis League is one of the city’s oldest and most popular organizations. But as SlutWalk’s Heather Jarvis explains, it’s Tennis Canada’s use of the word that just ain’t right. “It’s demeaning towards women,” Jarvis told Now magazine. “It suggests women are just the initial attraction, they don’t actually matter. It’s a poster that’s saying, ‘Come check out the hot ladies and stay for the men, because those are the real athletes.’”

The new slogan for the tournament is “Making history, reliving history,” which we find appropriately non-sexist but alarmingly boring. Regardless, we’re excited that Toronto is hosting the women’s draw. When the men were in town last year, the tourney turned into a coming-out party for some of the country’s top talent, and we’re hoping more exciting tennis phenoms will turns heads—for the right reasons—again this year.

Rogers Cup ad is out of bounds, says Slut Walk rep [NOW]
Rogers Cup changes slogan, posters after accusations of sexism [Yahoo! Sports]

  • allison

    I agree with the change. It was offensive originally.

  • allison

    But your comment that now it is “alarmingly boring”?… Have you read this website? BOOOO-RING!!!! Toronto Life needs someone on staff to update this stuff super fast. I only check in once a week. For instance, your section on real estate could NOT move more slowly.

  • rick sherman

    I have a great idea. let’s have the tennis played during the blackcreek concert series- that way watching james taylor play tennis with placido will finally give you a reason to go to that lame concert series

  • Mariza

    I would much rather be known as a lady then a slut. Let us pick true battles. As a tennis player I have never had a problem with the name and I think that it is wonderful that we have a world class tennis event like this in our city

  • Rosaleen

    Its truly sad that seeking an alterantive to blatant sexism has to be ‘boring’. Seriously, its 2011, we shouldn’t *have* to accept this garbage (yet were considered a bunch of nagging hens and burdensome killjoys when we complain). I can’t beleive the Rogers marketing and advertising teams would be so daft as to let such slogans pass (and so inept as to offer a ‘boring’ one in exchange).

  • Roy Toomey

    Despite the explanation, I still fail to see how this ad is sexist. The ad is clearly saying come to watch the ladies’ tennis match (notice how the women’s section of the ad is much larger and more prominent – obviously showing that it is the main attraction of the event) and stay afterward to see the legends of tennis (shown smaller – the bonus part of the event). However, you can read something into anything, if you try hard enough. I think feminists are running out of things to complain about nowadays and have to make stuff up: since when has the word ‘ladies’ become sexist? Also, why would a ‘feminist’ organization call itself ‘slut’ walk? Yeah, that’s not demeaning to women at all (rolls eyes). But as always, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, our liberal media backs the ‘feminists,’ and Rogers didn’t have the guts to stand up to them – apathetic jellyfish. I would honestly be interested to see how many normal Canadian women actually even cared about this ad, let alone found it sexist.