This has always been the case as far as I can tell, even on the WTA. Players who can hit the ball hard are seen as superior to players who prefer to defend, work the ball around or use variety. Why is that?
Bear in mind that these are two different things, and your cross-referencing them in the OP makes the question a bit difficult to address concisely.
In general, offensive play is more highly rated than defensive play because initiative is generally more tasteful than responsiveness.
But talking about someone who uses variety is a different matter altogether. The ability to command points through variable play is not restricted to any one style or archetype, and I don't think people generally prefer mindless ball-bashing to that.
When it comes down to it, pushing, or getting the ball in play with no other intent, is what people really look down upon. Unfortunately, most defensive or tactical players can revert to this on occasion, so people don't bother to gauge them as anything more. Worse, for these type of players, is that their play can be made to look like mere pushing when their tactics are working too well or not working at all, paradoxically. Thus, again, they're sort of unfairly pigeonholed as pushers.