Sexism Causes a Racket at Wimbledon

800px-Tennis_Racket_and_BallsBritons were elated this week when tennis-star Andy Murray made history by beating opponent Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon finals. Winning Wimbledon is a big deal for British tennis fans and the media exploded with praise for Murray’s victory after a 77-year drought for British tennis players.

Unfortunately, media networks from CNN to the BBC got their facts wrong. Murray is not the first Brit to win Wimbledon in the last 77 years; there have, in fact, been four British women champions in that time: Dorothy Round Little in 1937, Angela Mortimer Barrett  in 1961, Ann Haydon-Jones in 1969 and Virginia Wade in 1977.

In response to the sexist reporting, Feministing editor Chloe Angyal tweeted, “Murray is indeed the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years unless you think women are people.” At the time of this writing, she’s been re-tweeted 19,551 times, and this picture of Wade has traversed the Internet:

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This is an encouraging reaction, but sadly, the sexism at Wimbledon still continues. Last Friday, French tennis player Marion Bartoli won the Wimbledon women’s singles. Instead of praising her victory, she was criticized for her appearance. Her opponent, Sabine Lisicki, was credited with having more of the “tennis star look”—as if there was such a thing.

Some Twitter users were unabashed in their sexism, homophobia and nastiness:

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(You can find more horrendous Tweets here )

While many idiots can hide behind the anonymity of a computer, the same cannot be said of the BBC’s John Inverdale, who also chose to comment on Bartoli’s looks instead of her acumen as a tennis player. Inverdale, for whom tennis sexism is nothing new, was then allowed to go about business as usual, commentating the men’s singles finals.

And if sexists grew tired of criticizing the players, they could always turn to the audience, where the wives and girlfriends of tennis players were scrutinized for their reactions, and pitted against each other as if they themselves were the spectator sport.

Shoved into tropes and stereotypes, it seems not a woman is spared when it comes to Wimbledon.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Vladsinger under license from Creative Commons 3.0

About

Natasha Turner is a freelance journalist and editor based in London and a former Ms. editorial intern.