Australian Open decision to salute women achievers is exemplary

The Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam, aims to celebrate women not only in tennis but also in other walks of life. Its organisers have roped in former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters to join the panel which will select some of Australia’s mos

MAL FAIRCLOUGH / AFP

For the first time, a major tournament has come up with a programme to promote gender equality beyond its sport. Tennis was among the first professional sport to offer equal prize money to men and women. In fact, on the Forbes list of highest earning women athletes, seven of the top 10 are tennis players – Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska.

It is a heartening gesture from a major tournament. It is a great example of sport setting standards and can be replicated around the world. On January 28, during the Australia Open semi-finals, a select group of women will be felicitated for their achievements in the respective fields.

“The more we can shine the international spotlight on these amazing women, the more it will encourage others to promote equality,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said. “Women’s semi-finals day at the Australian Open is a fantastic showcase for women’s sport, with four of the world’s best female athletes battling for places in the year’s first Grand Slam final. What better time to come together and celebrate women’s achievements.”

There are many talented women in India who need to be encouraged and their achievements recognised. For every Sania Mirza and Saina Nehwal, MC Mary Kom and Geeta Phogat, there are others like Khushbir Kaur, Lalita Babar, Dipa Karmakar and Rani Rampal who deserve to be in the limelight. An initiative like this can do wonders for India in terms of getting its population to take to sport.

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