Former world No.21 Sorana Cirstea opened up about the untold truth of women’s tennis where the physical beauty of athletes plays a dominant role in their popularity with sponsors.
Speaking on the La Fileu podcast, as Marca reports, the Romanian WTA player explained how good looks have to accompany exceptional tennis results in order for a female athlete to get lucrative sponsorship deals. Besides beauty, a player’s country of origin can make or break their chances of achieving true stardom.
Remembering the days when she signed a contract with Adidas, the 32-year-old Cirstea said:
When you’re in the Top 20, they see you everywhere, you’re there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every week, every tournament. And they said to me. ‘It’s better to be pretty and be in the Top 10 or Top 20 than ugly and be number one’.
The Romanian also explained how a player’s place of birth also determines their marketability level:
The best paid stars are American, Chinese or Japanese. In Japan the highest paid player is Osaka, she has been the highest paid athlete in all sports in recent years. It’s the market! Great Britain sells and Spain also sells. Eastern Europe doesn’t sell! It’s not the same and it depends a lot on you and your personality, how you inspire people and how you present yourself, that matters a lot too.
Cirstea also talked about Serena Williams and one of the 23-time Grand Slam champion’s off-court tactics:
Serena used to intimidate me a lot, she was trained to do that, to intimidate you in the locker room. First of all Serena didn’t want to talk to anyone in the locker room, to any other player, even though we had a shared locker room.
It’s a little strange at first when you see someone on TV and then you get to play against them. In the locker room she didn’t talk to anyone and she had an aura that intimidated you.