An (in)complete democratization? First elements of a sociology of French “women’s” tennis

Research papers
By Marine Fontaine

Abstract : Based on a questionnaire survey of 5,293 ranked French female tennis players, this article analyzes the social recruitment of “women’s” tennis and the diversity of practices that characterize the official ranking categories of the French Tennis Federation. Our results show that tennis has indeed opened up to members of the middle and working classes, but this democratization of practice in the official “leisure” categories should not mask the social disparities observed as one moves up the ranking hierarchy. The practice, training, and career conditions of female tennis players remain obstacles to a full democratization of tennis. The fact that such democratization remains incomplete is not without consequence if we consider the fact that, despite the constant progression of “women’s” licenses in sports activities, the rate of feminization of tennis keeps decreasing (35% in 2000; 29.4% in 2019).

  • tennis
  • gender
  • democratization
  • segregation
  • social recruitment
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