Chauvinism at Centre Court and beyond

Rani Dharker

Hail the conquering hero, riding a white steed in his white gear, an unsheathed, shining tennis racquet in one hand, a fluorescent tennis ball in the other, graciously acknowledging the hysterical adulation showered on him, along with the flowers.

What about the conquering heroines - Angela Mortimer (runner-up Christine Truman), Ann Haydon Jones, Virginia Wade — Wimbledon winners in 1961, 1969, 1977 respectively. There’s a rumour they were all British. English newspapers were delirious, devoting all pages to Murray, the first Brit to win Wimbledon after 77 years! Everyone forgot the women winners–even though Virginia Wade was at Centre Court in the commentary box.

Does this kind of prove what women have suspected all along – that women are well, invisible? And when they are visible it is because they are lookers? As French player Marion Bartoli, who won this year, climbed into the stands to where her father was, BBC Radio 5 Live presenter, John Inverdale, said, “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 Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?’ Bartoli’s response to that was dignified: “I am not blonde, yes. That`s a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.”

Have there ever been comments on Nadal’s face or Becker’s body? Big sponsorships, magazine covers and media attention go to female athletes not because of their athletic ability but because they have great bodies and good looks like Anna Kournikova or Maria Sharapova. The athletes who are not pretty not only get no endorsements, they have to bear sexist comments.

Take Serena Williams. She has been around for years, many times a winner, but sports journalists can’t get over how big she is. Her size, her muscles and her derriere are mentioned time and again. There’s even resentment that she often plays like a man: ‘Too much testosterone for a woman.’ She is a ‘savage.’

BBC comedienne, Frankie Boyle, posted crude tweets about swimmer Rebecca Adlington’s looks. One of them, retweeted 3000 times, was: “I worry that Rebecca Adlington will have an unfair advantage in swimming by possessing a dolphin’s face.”

In a survey it was found that men drivers were inconsiderate to elderly women when they crossed the road but all of them stopped to let a beautiful young girl pass. I had this peculiar experience – I was a bit confused at Heathrow airport. I approached a group of Japanese pilots. Japanese are excessively polite, yes? This pilot gave me a hard look, said something in Japanese which made them laugh and then they left without answering.

The thought crossed my mind – had I been young and blonde, they’d have escorted me to my plane.One can’t put it better than Chloe Angyal who tweeted, ‘Murray is indeed the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years, unless you think women are people.’

Do you think Wimbledon is a chauvinistic arena? Send us examples of chauvinisim from your world.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find out more by clicking this link