For decades, perhaps even longer, there has been an insatiable appetite for women trying to beat men at their own game when it comes to sport.

From Billie Jean King’s “Battle of the Sexes” to Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie taking their place in men’s golf tournaments, there are plenty of examples of women facing their male counterparts within the sporting world but, for a variety of reasons, primarily the natural physical advantages held by males, it rarely goes well.

Which is why it was surprising to read that Fallon Sherrock, the best female darts player in the world, will be taking her place permanently on the main PDC Tour which has, traditionally, been the men’s darts tour.

The 28-year-old is an icon, having taken on every stereotype and smashing it. Her performances against the top men in the world have ensured she has done as much as anyone within sport to prove men are not, by default, more capable then women.

Last year, the Englishwoman became the first female player to reach the final of a PDC World Final Series tournament and this year, she qualified for the men’s world championships.

She has, unquestionably, done more for the profile of women’s darts than everyone else combined.

What is so interesting, then, about her decision to join the men’s tour is that it has little to do with performance and everything to do with the increasingly hostile environment she feels on the women’s tour.

“I am not welcome with the women anymore,” she said last week.

For someone who has elevated women’s darts to the extent she has, any kind of bad feeling towards her is entirely unwarranted.

Her permanent presence amongst the men though, will likely fuel the fascination around women competing against men. There is something perplexing about why it is so compelling to so many.

The implication, when women feel the need to compete against men, is that they are not valid as elite athletes unless they can hold their own with the men.

This is, clearly, ridiculous.

With darts having less of a physical element than most sports, women may be able to compete on more of a level playing field with men than is typical but regardless of how much faster, stronger or more powerful male athletes naturally are, it has no bearing on the worthiness of women’s sport.

This fact, and the erosion of the importance of it, is what makes women competing against men so hard to support wholeheartedly.

By falling into the mindset that female athletes are only valued if they can compete with men and women’s sport is only legitimate if its level, on a purely physical scale, rivals that of male sport, does significant harm to the reputation of women’s sport.

This is why women’s sport and female athletes still face an uphill struggle in terms of gaining equality; if women’s sport continues to be judged on how it measures up against men’s sport, it will rarely come out on top due to the biological advantages men have.

This, however, is where the conflict lies. When Sherrock takes her place on the PDC Tour, I’ll be supporting her as vociferously as anyone. I maintain the belief that women do not have to be better than men in a one-off match for women’s sport to be valuable.

But Sherrock’s success, if and when it comes, will prove to every sexist, misogynist and chauvinist out there that men are not inherently better at sport.

So while I will fight to the end to convince any sports fan that women’s sport can be just as enthralling, exciting, impressive and valuable as men’s sport, I still hope Sherrock takes the scalp of more than a few of the top men over the coming months.


It was welcome news last week to hear that Novak Djokovic will be at the Australian Open in January as he attempts to reclaim the title he has already won nine times.

Djokovic’s absence in Melbourne last January was one of the stories of the year, despite the Serb not setting foot on court. His detention by Australian border authorities due to his unvaccinated status made headlines far wider than merely the tennis press and in the end, he was deported back to Serbia before the tournament even began.

The implications of this looked to be severe; Australian laws state that a three-year ban from the country follows a deportation but last week, Australian officials overturned Djokovic’s ban.

There can be little dispute that it is of huge benefit to tennis. Any tournament, but particularly a Grand Slam, is far poorer without the presence of Djokovic who is one of the greatest players ever to pick up a tennis racquet.

His refusal to get the Covid vaccine last year has done much damage to his bid to become the greatest player ever, statistically anyway, with Rafa Nadal leapfrogging him in the Grand Slam race.

That Djokovic has managed to finish this year inside the world’s top eight, despite being banned from competing in two Grand Slams and four Masters 1000 tournaments due to being unvaccinated is remarkable and says much about him as a tennis player.

It should not be forgotten that his absence from these tournaments has been entirely of his own making. But the 2023 Australian Open will be a far better tournament for the inclusion of Djokovic.