"As Sharapova and Dulko ran and stretched and lunged, most of the male spectators could not have cared less about their topspin forehands and would no more have recognised a western grip from a western movie -- this match was about hormones, pure and simple."
So there it is again. Is that what women's tennis is for, so men can leer at the players' bodies as they run and stretch and lunge on the court? Is women's tennis just soft porn?
Darn media. You never know who writes this stuff anymore, right? Well, no.
This was the account on Wimbledon.org shortly after the match. The tournament's official Web site. The game story.
It starts by pointing out that Sharapova said she wasn't ready to win Wimbledon, and that she was right. She lost. And it said that we would have to look elsewhere for a champ. But ...
Trying to persuade any gentlemen of a red-blooded persuasion to look anywhere other than in Queen Shazza's direction is no easy task. Then again, if any woman has a chance of distracting the chaps for a moment, it is Miss Dulko.I know there are plenty of guys out there watching women's tennis for all the beautiful women in short dresses. Of course. Plenty are watching for the tennis and noticing the women, too.
"The 24-year-old from Buenos Aires has, in the past, been voted one of the sexiest players on the planet. And judging by the response in the press room, she is very likely to win any such contests in the future, too. According to the boys in the press room, Miss Dulko is really rather splendid.
Reality is reality. And everyone knows that it is helping to sell women's tennis. But no way should the tournament's own site be promoting this image of women's sport, especially in its coverage of a match. Former men's champ Michael Stich said the other day, basically, that women's tennis needs to cut back on all the grunting, as it's not sexy, and women's tennis is just selling sex, anyway. And when someone asked Serena Williams about it, she said "Sex sells."
So women have to fight the same tired battle again for credibility. And then Wimbledon comes out with this on its site:
"For all that the ladies of the WTA Tour wish to be taken seriously as athletes, there are times when they are fighting a losing battle."
Well honestly, there is truth in that one. And in fairness, I found that story on the site mid-Wednesday afternoon. By Wednesday night, it was gone, replaced with an actual account of the match by the same female writer.
Yes, female writer. That just makes this all the more surprising. But still, it is blatantly sexist, and it flies right in the face of the women's game and its ability to be taken seriously. And it's particularly bad considering this sport's history, this club's stiff reputation.
I mean, is that what Wimbledon thinks is happening here? Women bending and lunging in short skirts? How about tennis? I know, I know. Some of these players aren't wearing much, and do spend a lot of time worrying about their appearances. They have their own conflicts, trying to find a balance of appearance and athleticism.
Sharapova is on the cover of the current ESPN the Magazine, partly because of her sex appeal, partly for her tennis. In the magazine, she says she watched the game while she was out with a shoulder injury and thought, "Why do these girls wear so much makeup? I can't even figure out how they keep their eyeliner from running."
There is nothing wrong with trying to look good in public. But that match was not for hormones only. And at the very least, if that's all people are watching tennis for, then they shouldn't find it on the official Web site. Let them go somewhere else.
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