Women’s Sport vs The Media – Newspaper Roundup


This week’s media roundup almost became a rant about newspaper distribution as this writer had to visit 3 (THREE!) shops to pick up a compliment of Sunday papers respectable enough to manage a proper review from.  Having been gorged on bacon, pancakes, strawberries and coffee, though, it instead comes to you from a rather dreamily satisfied Sportist writer.  No rants anticipated.  At least, not until we get into the guts of the papers themselves.

The Observer

‘Oh, this looks good’, thought I upon picking up this week’s Observer.  We’re not even into the sports pages and there, BANG, on the front cover is a picture of the incomparable Serena Williams coming at you like….well, like a Serena Williams serve, we’d imagine.  Women’s sport on the front pages?  Whatever next?

Whatever next, sadly, appears to be not very much at all.  There is, of course, a full spread on Williams’ remarkable 16th Grand Slam victory, her first on the clay of Roland Garros since 2002 which lifts her to within two Slams of compatriot Chris Evert, but that’s almost the lot.  Worse, somehow, despite the banner headline and double page photo is the fact that the report on the Williams-Sharapova victory constitutes barely more words than the preview of today’s men’s final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer.

Elsewhere there is a brief, but nonetheless welcome of yesterday’s FA WSL games between Liverpool and Birmingham, and Bristol and Lincoln, but that’s sadly your lot.  Bit of a let down, really.

The Mail on Sunday

Goodness me, The Mail on Sunday.  Without making this into a political diatribe, I think it’s fair to suggest that this Sportist writer is emphatically not the audience demographic to which the DMGT’s staple Sunday paper is targeted.  In some ways, though, that can be a helpful position to come from when assessing its women’s sport coverage.  While huge amounts may be expected of The Observer, for instance, nothing at all is expected of The Mail on Sunday.  So, seeing Serena Williams’ picture on the front page and coming across a really very good report of yesterday’s final in the inner pages is rather nice, really.

There’s nothing else, of course, unless you count a short piece about one of the Queen’s horses as a women in sport article.  We don’t.

The Sunday Telegraph

This has been mentioned before, but this half of The Sportist grew up with The Torygraph as its household paper of choice.  It’s an on-going point of astonishment that I even knew women and sport could exist in the same sentence growing up.  You certainly wouldn’t know it from the regular output of the middle class’ heartlands.

This week, though, it’s hands up and admissions time.  This is pretty good.  Of course, it’s limited, but the French Open Final match report is detailed, insightful and given far more attention than today’s men’s final.  And there’s even an in brief section that brings us the sad news of former Olympic broze medal winning 400m runner and latterly competitive body-builder Donna Hartley-Wass’ sudden death at the age of 58.

The Independent on Sunday

Get ready for this: this is utterly, utterly brilliant.  We’ll skip over the tennis coverage (it’s there, it’s good, it’s welcome) and move straight on to two simply superb women’s sport articles.  The first, an outstanding piece by Tim Rich on the enforced relegation from FA WSL of Doncaster Belles, who will be moved to the FA WSL 2 as of next season to make way for Manchester City in the new standings.  Not only does this bring to light a genuinely serious issue impacting the credibility of women’s football in England, but it offers an unusual insight into the human cost behind administrative decisions in the women’s version of the country’s leading sport.  An absolute must read.

Even if that had been it, we’d have been impressed.  But the paper follows up with a fascinating profile of Gillian Cooke, the Scottish Commonwealth Games pole vaulter and long-jumper and Winter Olympic bob-sledder too.  An outstanding, multi-talented woman of exceptional sporting pedigree.  Again, a real must read.

Indy – wonderful, wonderful work.

The Sunday Times

Look, we’re going to be kind to The Sunday Times.  It’s a poor week.  Serena Williams, French Open, that’s it.

Image from guardian.co.uk – Thanks!!





  1. Would anyone know that a major golf championship has been taking place over the past four days, with a leading British player in contention? Well of course not. Why would anyone be interested in that? I know golf is not everybody’s cup of tea and frankly seems like a lost cause in view of the myriad of prejudices and antediluvian attitudes which seem to characterize it, but can’t somebody in the sports media even try to make an effort?
    Female tennis players have it easy when one considers that at least their majors are played at the same time and at the same place as those of the men, so people do notice them. And I know the clash with the French Open tennis is hardly ideal, but there are always going to be be sporting clashes all over the place and somehow it never seems to mean that men’s major events get to disappear altogether. (Sorry rant over…for now!)

    • Don’t apologise – we love a good rant!

      It’s an absolutely fair point and one worth making. Women’s golf is desperately under-represented in the mainstream media and – yes – by us too! We can’t offer much by explanation from the wider media fraternity, but from our side there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm and enjoyment for golf from our side. It doesn’t make the sport any less worthy of attention, though, and the world’s leading female golfers are an exceptionally talented bunch.

      The only slight point of contention from our side – we’re not sure that female tennis players have it easy at all. In fact, that very clash with the men’s events has led to far from flattering comparisons from both certain fan bases and some of the media. Hardly an easy situation to be in.

      It’s all part of the wider debate, in any case, and sadly all part of the issues still impacting women’s sport.


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