Wimbledon this year was the greatest disappointment to me. Being an ardent fan and player of tennis myself, Wimbledon has been that one tournament in the year that I look forward to, more so than any other Grand Slam (and possibly the only British thing I like other than Agyness Deyn). This year was disappointing because sexism ran rampant!
First there was the ardent hatred that Marion Bartoli was subjected to after winning the women’s singles championship. All because she wasn’t a size zero, blonde Russian sex bomb. Clearly women have not realized that a perfect figure and sex appeal are the requirements of a champion and not perseverance and talent! How dare we think that women’s tennis exists for any reason other than to fulfill the male fantasy of bouncing boobs in HD! Tennis is pretty much the same thing as Baywatch.
Apart from the shameless pigheaded tweets about how she wasn’t even pretty enough to be raped (WTF!?!?! As if that was what she dreamed of!), Bartoli was publicly humiliated by a BBC sports announcer John Inverdale who 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’?”
While the world of Twitter took to Ms. Bartoli’s defense, BBC got away with issuing a mere apology. I personally think that not only should John Inverdale have issued a personal apology, but also he should have been fired!
As if that example of sexism wasn’t enough, there was the infamous statement “Andy Murray, the first Brit to have won the Wimbledon title in 77 years!” Applause for Murray, but I think the statement everyone was going for was “Andy Murray, the first Brit to have won the Wimbledon title SINCE ’77” or “Andy Murray, the first Brit MAN to have won the Wimbledon title in 77 years!” Virginia Wade and her title from 1977 clearly have no standing now that a man has achieved this accomplishment! Did Britain suddenly forget about her, or does a woman winning this title really just mean nothing to them?
Lastly, there was the resurrection of the infamous and endless debate on whether women and men should be given equal prize money when the women only play best of three sets, but men play best of five sets. All things considered women have put in the same about of time, money, energy, sacrifices, perseverance and dedication as men. Their expenses for equipment, training and travel are the same. They have to qualify through many tournaments and rounds just as men do, to prove that they are worthy of playing in the main draw at Wimbledon. They are not given a free pass. So why then should they not be paid equally?
The time spent on court is the most favored argument. To that I say, give us the luxury of playing a best of five set match, and not a single female player will debate the decision. Women have only ever fought to be treated as equals. Billie Jean King dedicated her life towards fighting for equality in the sport! Let’s not even bring up the legendary Battle of the Sexes when Ms. King represented women everywhere in a match against Bobby Riggs (and won).
It saddens me when tennis is faced with sexism. Tennis is the only sport that has always stood for equality. The first Men’s Grand Slam to be played was Wimbledon in 1877, and it was conceived for women in 1884. The first men’s US open was played in 1881, and women’s in 1887. Men’s French Open and Australian Open in 1891 and 1905 respectively and Women’s French Open and Australian Open in 1897 and 1922 respectively. More importantly, the US Open was the first to hand out equal prize money to men and women, and this policy was put into effect in 1975! Something the remaining three Grand Slams only caught up with in 2007.
For a sport that chose its path of equality from the very beginning, before women even fought for equality, it’s heart breaking to see it now being riddled with sexism.
Or perhaps equality in tennis was too good to be true.