Wimbledon Singles Champion Gets Served a Double Standard


Wimbledon Women and Body Fat 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

8 responses to “Wimbledon Singles Champion Gets Served a Double Standard”

  1. Karen says:

    As a big fan of tennis and someone who writes on the subject I can understand how you feel about the presses comments about Bartoli. However, keep one thing in mind Bartoli is very combative with the press and people in general. She is constantly telling everyone how smart she is, I don’t know any other player who constanly references her IQ score, and how hard she has it because the French federation has never supported her. She regularly agrues calls on the court, and snubs her oppenets when she losses. If she did not behave like this I don’t think the press would attack her about her appearance rather they would celebrate her victory. I’m not saying the press was justified in going after her looks because they weren’t, but if it hadn’t been her looks I think the press would have attacked something about her. As for the Virgina Wade thing, the commentators did say Murray was the first British male champion in 77 years, they did acknowledge Wade on several occasions. Of the course the fact that Murray is Scottish and not British is another matter entirely. It has been said that if Murray wins he’s British but if he losses he’s Scottish.

    • Cindy says:

      Thank you for your comments, Karen. I think one of the frustrating things was the fact that they weren’t discussing topics that make Bartoli a controversial winner. I’ve never been a big fan of Bartoli either, but for tennis-related reasons, none of which includes her appearance.

      She’s may be an odd duck, but not an ugly duckling.

  2. sajardine says:

    Dear Cindy,
    I beg to differ with you on one key point. Bartoli is an elite athlete, so she obviously does possess the physique of one. By suggesting that she doesn’t because she is not rail thin, you are buying into the very same misogynistic thinking about women’s bodies that you purport to decry in your post.

  3. Lori says:

    I had to listen to the local DJ’s talk about Marion’s appearance. But no one commented on Murray’s appearance at all. I think she’s beautiful. A lot of her images on the web show her COMPLETE FOCUS on competing.

    I don’t understand your comment, “Does she possess the physique of an elite athlete? Nope.”

    I think, if you win Wimbledon, then YES, you do possess the physique of an elite athlete. Because you ARE an elite athlete.

    Congrats to Marion! And hopefully, announcers will think twice before commenting on female athletes’ “looks” and focus on their accomplishments.

  4. Tracey Simon says:

    Hell, yeah! I think Billie Jean King was spared some of the critiques about her looks because only in recent years (1990s on), it seems that women athletes not only have to be strong and competent, they have to have fashion model looks as well. (That reporter is an idiot. Wonder what he looks like?)

    If this is a serious trend, people will refuse surgery from a female doctor just because she doesn’t look like Jennifer Aniston.

  5. Cindy says:

    Touche, ladies! I should have said (and meant) the ‘stereotypical’ body of an elite athlete. There are many other outstanding women tennis players did not possess that body type. Both Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati come to mind. Both number one’s btw!

  6. […] touched on this subject earlier this year when Maria Bartoli won Wimbledon, although she does not possess the perceived physique of an elite athlete, […]

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