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I have known many women fencers who would rather place 10th in a mixed competition than first in a women-only competition. Why? I really don't think it has anything to do with the Battle of the Sexes (which, I suspect is more often played out in the living room than on the tennis court). I think it has more to do with the drive to be "the best", instead of merely "the best of all those who aren't better than me". No competetive person wants to feel that s/he can only win in a restricted field. Taken to absurd extremes, suppose we held an event in your favorite sport, in which we disqualified everyone who was better than you. Presumably, you would win first place. Would you be particularly proud of the medal?

A person doesn't achieve the kind of excellence that Serena Williams and Karrie Webb have achieved without being a true competitor, and every true competitor, sooner or later, sets his or her sights on the current champion. That shouldn't change just because the champ happens to be of the opposite sex.

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