I started this blog a little under 5 years ago after I became increasingly frustrated at the lack of visibility afforded the WTA at combined events, that is, those events where the men and women compete together. I would get annoyed when the top women, many of them former Grand Slam champions were regulated to non-tv court time while the men, many of whom tennis fans have never heard of, were afforded the luxury of tv courts.
I joined Twitter so that I could make representations to the powers that be by speaking to them directly. Many other tennis fans joined the chorus and today I have to say that the coverage of the women in these Combined Events has improved significantly.
However, this post is not about court assignments for the women or anything of that nature. This post is about the questions that are being asked of the women when they meet the press after their matches. I can understand when questions are posed to elicit comments about a venture that the player’s representative or the WTA is promoting, i.e. the 40th Anniversary of the WTA, or when Sharapova launched her candy line or when Serena decided that she was going to nail tech school. These questions, while they have nothing to do with what these women do on court, at least taps into what they do off the court.
In some way I can even understand players being asked about their private lives, especially when it is a public romance, as in Sharapova and Dmitrov and Wozniacki and McIlroy. I can understand, even though I don’t think it is anyone’s business, but I can understand. What I cannot understand and cannot possibly find any reason to think why a journalist thought it was appropriate, is why Simona Halep, 22 years old and possibly having her own issues from having breast reduction surgery, is asked about the impact of having the size of her breasts reduced.
If you think I am lying, below is the extract of the questions that the noted journalist (I don’t know who) decided was appropriate to ask.
As your profile rises, people find out more about you, your breast reduction surgery was three or four years ago. Does that play any part in your success?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, it was a long time ago, my breast reduction. I am happy for that. Now if I have to do again for tennis, I would do, yeah. It was a good decision for me.
Q. What about outside the tennis?
SIMONA HALEP: Sorry?
Q. What about outside the tennis?
SIMONA HALEP: Outside the tennis what?
Q. You said you would do it again.
SIMONA HALEP: I don’t want to say anything about this (laughter).
I could possibly understand if the journalist (and I use that term loosely) was going to go in a direction of how her breasts prior to the reduction affected her game, then I could possibly find some leeway, but the question was not only inappropriate, but it just did not make sense, considering the historical nature of what Halep had just achieved in her career.
I have seen extracts of interviews where the WTA is front and centre and discourages questions regarding grunting by the women in tennis, so I know for a fact that a WTA representative is on the ground at these sessions. I therefore find it inexplicable that there was no one from the WTA, or it did not seem like it, who could in all good conscience issue a seize and desist order to the journalist in question that this line of questioning was inappropriate.
I can’t imagine if I was successful in my job and I went in for my performance review (which is what a press conference really is), if my boss enquired of me, so Karen, now that you have attained your degree, do you attribute that to your weight loss or the fact that you had your boobs done? Clearly, my answer would have been one which would have left me firing off a lawsuit and looking for employment elsewhere.
Inasmuch as the WTA seems to be taking the grunting debate seriously, (and I don’t know why it is), I hope that they do take the type of questions that are continuously demeaning the women of the WTA by so-called journalists very seriously as well.