Female tennis players should play five-set matches because limiting them to three sets is "degrading" and "reinforces a false stereotype of female incapacity", academics have argued.

They said it is "indefensible" and "out-dated" to make the likes of Petra Kvitova and Johanna Konta play shorter matches than Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Ahead of Wimbledon which begins on Monday, Dr Paul Davis, from the University of Sunderland, and Lisa Edwards, a senior lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said the practice underlined false beliefs about women's physical limitations and outmoded ideals of femininity.

The pair argued that since women play 90 minutes of football, 80 minutes of rugby, and run the same distances in marathons as men, they should play five-sets of tennis.

In their paper, Is It Defensible For Women To Play Fewer Sets Than Men In Grand Slam Tennis?, which is due to be published later this year, they say it also fuels the argument against equal prize money which women fought for so long to achieve and were finally awarded at Wimbledon in 2007.

Dr Davis, who is chairman of the British Philosophy of Sport Association, said: "The Grand Slam sex-based sets disparity is a cultural tradition which degrades women, as it reinforces a false stereotype of female incapacity and, in turn, a fast-dying notion of femininity, which is starkly challenged by what women do on the tennis court and in other sports.

"It should be ended."

Dr Davis said change could also mean the end of the men's title being played after the women's, and argued that it should alternate from year to year.

He said staging the women's final first implied it was a "taster" for the main event played by men.

However, Dr Davis did acknowledge that not all female players would want to play five sets, and he also said he recognised the place of tradition in sport.