I am going to try my best to update this blog on a more regular basis especially during this fortnight.
With so many bloggers and tennis media now paying attention to the blatant sexism in sport, I thought I would start putting more attention on what is being said from the commentary box. Frankly, with so much attention being given to how the women are being portrayed, especially in light of Murray’s recent hire of Amelie Mauresmo, you can imagine my shock when the first match that I tuned in to this morning had me opening my mouth in shock. The commentary made me think there is a place for this heading on my blog …
OVERHEARD FROM THE COMMENTATORS’ BOX
Sloane Stephens v. Maria Kirilenko – players are still doing their warm up. Can’t recall who was in the commentary box but it was a man and a woman. In light of John Inverdale’s hay fever comment about Marion Bartoli’s looks last year, I would have thought everyone would have been been on their p’s and q’s and made sure that they took their hay fever medicine. Nope, this was the comment from the woman in the booth during Stephens/Kirilenko “it helps that they are both beautiful as it helps with marketing them …”
Yeah, you are right. It was not about the fact that they are professional athletes, who are perhaps pretty good at what they do and therefore in a position to get endorsement deals etc. Nope, it was because they were both beautiful. Never change tennis commentator, never change.
Fast forward to Venus Williams going up against Maria-Teresa Toro-Flor. Virginia Wade is someone that I have always admired in the commentary booth. Her comments about the women’s game are usually all about tactics and strategy but after her eyebrow raising comments about Murray’s hiring of Amelie Mauresmo, she fell another notch in my book regarding her comments in the Venus match. Wade opined to her colleague that the Williams Sisters used to win matches based on hitting with so much power. Now all the women hit with power and are able to outhit the Williams Sisters. Now, the Williams Sisters are winning by using brute force. She further went on to talk about where Venus was standing to return serve and that she has no idea why Venus does not back up off the baseline in order to give herself some time.
Now you will all know that Venus Williams has won 5 Wimbledon singles titles using that same strategy. That tactic of standing on the baseline to receive serve is the stance that has now been adopted by 90% of the women on the WTA. In addition, to standing on top of the baseline, the Williams Sisters also personified power tennis, but that is not what they are all about. The record number of doubles titles on all surfaces speaks to their ability to tailor their game to suit the surface. For Virginia Wade of all people to trivilize their games by stating that they were all about power and when that fails it is all about brute force does the sport of tennis and the Wiliams Sisters a disservice.