08 July, 2009

Love all?

So Wimbledon is finally over, and I'm breathing a sigh of relief for two different reasons. First of all, I don't enjoy tennis; it's dull as anything and so far as I can tell, designed exclusively for the upper classes. Who else would pay £12 for strawberries? However, for the week Wimbledon was on, I happened to be working in an office full of people who think tennis is the sport of kings, or possibly Gods, and as such the big screen in the reception area where I worked was duly switched to the BBC for all day coverage, leading to there constantly being a gaggle of suited bankers hanging around my desk all day chatting almonst themselves (or worse, to me) about the tennis. This, in case you were wondering when I was going to get to it, leads me to the second reason I'm glad Wimbledon is over: it brought out amongst these men and women such misogyny that I had to spend seven hours a day restraining myself from reaching over the desk and smacking them in the mouth.

I speak, of course, about Venus And Serena Williams. Now I never heard anyone once comment on Andy Murray's physique (a bit weedy looking, if you ask me) or ponder if the male player who was 6'7 had an unfair advantage. But when it came to the Williams sisters, two dedicated atheletes who are famously known for having the muscular physiques of, um, a dedicated athelete, the bile poured.

"Oh, I hope she doesn't win - look at her, she looks like a man", "yuck, I hope she gets knocked out, she's revolting, so manly", "it's unfair for them to get this far, they look like men", "I prefer Venus to Serena, at least she's a bit more feminine looking..." - yep, my charming colleagues, male and female, were rooting against two talented players because they don't have the most feminine of physiques (I'd also ask whoever wrote the book saying muscles were a masculine attribute, but I fear that's a different topic for a different day).

It just goes to show how thin the veneer of equality we have these days truly is. Yes, we can have female atheletes but heaven forbid they actually *look* like atheletes. Women players now get equal prize money to men, but we only really approve if they remain slim and delicate, and you know, non-threatening. Because that's what it's about, isn't it? We, men and women, don't like strong women, still. Women should be fragile, delicate, submissive, or so the Patriarchy would have us believe, so we freak out when someone comes along who challenges that ideal.

Add to that the fact that Wimbledon officials have admitted to putting the most attractive female players on centre court, regardless of ranking, or the importance of the match (hence Serena Williams, 2nd in the world found herself playing an important match on court number 2, which attracts virtually no tv coverage while two unknown but nubile blonde beauties battled it out for the cameras on the centre stage) and the constant lingering close-ups of whichever women in the audience that day had made the sartorial mis-step of wearing a low-cut top in the sweltering heat, and I think we can all agree tennis is a strong contender for the prestigious title of Most Sexist Sport Ever.


  1. I'm actually going to be rather controversial at this point and say that I enjoy tennis, more from the point of view that is the same one of a person who loves football, and say that I was severely disappointed to see Nadal not in this year, since a final between him and Federer would have been brilliant. As it is, I'm happy that Federer got his 15th Grand Slam, being a massive fan of his anyway, and Murray gets on my nerves. A lot.
    A very sad fact about sports like football and tennis is the amount of sexism in it. Look at how much coverage women's football gets. I'd say that's just as much a contender for Most Sexist Sport Ever. Or rugby for that matter. I'm sure there's also a women's Boxing etc. All across the world of sport, there is a metric fuckton of unnecessary sexism holding women back from greater achievement, simply because those wankers at the Scum and Fail think it right to deride any woman derivating from their standards of beauty.
    Last I checked, sport was about your athletic prowess, not how you looked.

  2. Echoing Sayem, surely the reason this is even an issue is because tennis is one of the few games where the male and female sports are seen as (~) equally important?

    If you're looking for a Most Sexist Sport Ever contender, one like footy where the men's game gets 120 hours per week on telly and the women's game gets maybe a couple of hours might be a better place to start...

  3. Right, so because football is worse (on a standard I wasn't discussing) I should just not care about sexism in tennis? Where the fuck is the logic in that?

  4. I'd also contend the women's game is NOT seen as equally important as the men's in tennis, because if it were, the centre court would have been assigned to the highest ranking female players in the most important matches, and NOT by which female players were deemed most physically attractive. Women are about a decade off of being treated equally in tennis.

  5. Just realised I used the wrong word there - should be "diverging", not "derivating".
    As I say, I enjoy the sport itself, just not:
    1) The so-called titillation gained from trying to get a peek up the female players' skirts (where the fuck are we, school?);
    2) The categorisation so described in the post;
    3) The fact that this is another manifestation of the sexism endemic in all sports.
    The third point is the most important, since to change the attitudes to women in tennis, you've got to change the attitudes to women in sport in general. I hope you didn't take my comment as disagreement - it wasn't intended as such, just merely to say that tennis is sadly one of those games which falls victim to the endemic sexism in the world of sport.

  6. I fucking love tennis. But I fucking hate Wimbledon.

    The reason I hate Wimbledon is not just because the company I work for, Eurosport, does not have the rights for it, thus denying me free entry to centre court, although this is a function of why it sucks.

    Wimbledon is a Grand Slam tournament for people who don't like tennis. People who queue for days to get tickets, who pay thousands of pounds to see two freakish Slavs slug out a serve-fest on court one and pretend to enjoy it, people who stare blankly when you say Roddick-Hewitt will be tight as the annoying little Aussie will be looking to avenge a comprehensive beating at Queen's two weeks prior ("what's Queen's?", they say. Pricks).

    It's a function of British hype. Every summer Wimbledon comes along and everyone goes mental, making it utterly inaffordable for us to buy rights in the UK even though we show every other Slam and most tour events. So the Beeb spunk the taxpayer's hard-earned cash on it.

    People go mad about it, expect Murray to win, whine about how he once said he didn't support England and go on about how Henman was much nicer, even though he was (relatively) mediocre.

    Furthermore, morons watch the women's game and whinge about how Venus and Serena (who are brilliant, hilarious and supremely gifted) look like men, or are ugly, or aren't Anna Kournikova (who was, incidentally, really shit).

    This, in the mind of organisers and televisers, forces their hand to focus on Ana Ivanovic (who is super-hot but, frankly, cracked under the strain of being world number one), Maria Sharapova (who is probably never going to be the same player again due to a chronic back problem) and whatever stupidly cute teenage Czech that simian chief Radek Stepanek happens to be siring.

    But what REALLY annoys me is how so many people bitch about the Williams sisters. And about how quite subtly racist it is.

    Does anyone complain about world number one Dinara Safina's thighs (Christ, I'm straight, and I'd rather make out with her brother, Marat)? Does anyone make snide asides about how world number five Svetlana Kuznetsova looks remarkably like the dude from Soul Asylum? Course not, she's an athlete, she's paid to be athletic.

    Oh well what's the difference with the Williams sisters then?

    Yup. They're black.

    They have suffered racist abuse before, in Europe and the US, and if you read some of the pre-moderated bile in user comments left every time we publish an article on the website about this phenomenal pair you will see it in its entirety.

    "Animals", "beasts", "monkeys", "n****ers" and "black bitches" are some words used that have caused us to ban users.

    The general unpopularity, alas, is a function of this, and also a function of the fact that everyone knows that - if they could be arsed - they would dominate tennis to such an extent that no-one would get a look in. Indeed, questions have been raised as to why the WTA points system rewards overall matches won, regardless of tournament importance (meaning the Williams sisters don't get a look in at number one slot 'cos they only turn up for the Slams) while, for the men, weighting is given by relative importance.

    Aaaaaaaanyway. Fuck it. I love tennis. Wimbledon is easily the shittest Slam to watch. The rallies go on waaay longer in the French, the banter and atmosphere at the Aussie Open is hilarious, and for pure power and excitement the US Open is genius.

  7. The women aren't paid equally. They're paid the same for less tennis. (Best of 3, best of 5...)

    Still think it's sexist? It's the only sport women play which gets any significant audience. At all. And you think it is sexist that Men prefer to look at pretty girls? What about every woman you meet at a rugby match... their justification will include the word "thighs". Do men feel objectified?

    Get a grip.

    There's no pleasing some feminazis!

  8. I agree that it's totally horrible, the things said about the sisters in all years of their careers. I don't like tennis, but they are extremely good athletes.

    I look delicate and fragile and submissive because I CHOOSE to, because that is what makes me comfortable. I think the sisters are beautiful, too, in their own ways. They're african-american, and rather Amazonian. Just like Beyonce - except Beyonce is boobs and hips and thighs like treetrunks (because that's the way she's shaped) and those sisters are muscular.

    What's the problem with it?


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