Generally, I don’t think tennis gets the attention it deserves, but there was plenty of buzz at the close of the Wimbledon fortnight this past Sunday.
The big headline, of course, was Andy Murray, Britain’s (semi) native son, finally ended what millions were lamenting as a “77 year British drought” (Interesting coming from the land of Cambridge and Oxford — are we to forget our history and geography lessons? Because the last Wimbledon Champion was Virginia Wade who grabbed the title on Wimbledon’s 100th year anniversary in 1977 and Andy Murray is oh-so-very Scottish).
But what wasn’t expected was the nature of the buzz around Marion Bartoli and the double standard which still overshadows successful women in sports. Unfortunately, the legitimate press published debasing tweets from fans bullying the 2013 reigning champion because she isn’t pretty enough. Oh yes, and of course… she’s fat.
To ratchet up the absurdity of making cosmetic beauty analogous with sport, the ridiculous Simon Cowell-esque live remarks were made by BBC reporter, John Inverdales, when Marion climbed into the player’s box to hug and celebrate with her family and team — a grand slam tradition.
Read it and *bleep*:
“Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘You’re never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a [Maria] Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight’?”
What a tool. I’m not sure what’s toolier, the insult directed squarely at Marion (which only an adolescent boy might snicker at), or that cosmetic beauty is somehow the real equalizer in women’s professional tennis. And are not all the top players in the women’s game, including Maria Sharapova, scrappy? When’s the last time you saw a champion go down without a fight?
And worst of all, the absurd notion that there’s no after life tennis if you’re not a gorgeous blonde.
Just ask Billie Jean King, founder of the Woman’s Tennis Association, World Team Tennis and The Women’s Sports Foundation. Sure, she might have missed a photo shoot or two while she was winning 39 Grand Slam Championships — more than twice as many as Roger Federer. (But who’s counting?) And she might have skipped a guest appearance on the “Tonight Show” while she was being inducted into the International Hall of Fame, the National Women’s Hall of Fame, or being voted Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. And maybe her purse didn’t always match her shoes, but she was a little busy, supporting Title IX (one of the reasons women even get to play professional sports today). But what’s a girl to do?
I’m confident there are plenty of aspiring young tennis players who find women like Marion Bartoli inspirational. Is she quirky? Sure. Could she be described as unconventional? Most definitely. Does she possess the physique of an elite athlete? Nope. But she has passion and worked hard at her sport and she won Wimbledon, people! And that’s what’s so bloody great about it.
Photo by chascow