Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
An hour before Marion Bartoli's beat Sabine Lisicki for the Wimbledon trophy, BBC commentator John Inverdale attempted to win a trophy of his own -- for being a sexist jackass. According to BBC he said:
"I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, 'listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you're never going to be 5 feet 11, you're never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that. You are going to have to be the most dogged, determined fighter that anyone has ever seen on the tennis court if you are going to make it', and she kind of is."
Keep it classy John. We can only hope that Bartoli had the TV turned off when John said what so many men seem to think -- that women who don't look like models are not good at anything. My god, he thinks, I wouldn’t want to shag her, how will she ever be a successful tennis player? I think of it as the Susan Boyle Effect, we are shocked to tears when someone who doesn’t fit the stereotype of beauty is talented -- as if you can look at someone and tell how well they sing, or play tennis, or do anything.
Inverdale truly went for the gold when he issued an equally horrible apology:
"The point I was trying to make, in a rather ham-fisted kind of way, was that in a world where the public perception of tennis players is that they're all 6ft tall Amazonian athletes, Marion -- who is the Wimbledon champion -- bucks that trend…So I have apologised [sic] to Marion by letter if any offence was caused and I do hope that we can leave the matter there now."
Why, just once, can’t one of these people apologize for actually BEING offensive rather than apologizing for the feelings of the people they offended? Or, how about not saying truly horrific things in the first place? For example if you are a tennis commentator (and you really must point out the physical attributes of a player), perhaps you could talk about the difference between the work that shorter athletes have to do to become champions. Or hey, how about -- as a professional -- you not add to the misconception that all tennis players are 6ft tall Amazonian athletes! Talk about the players who don’t fit that mold with respect. Maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to reinforce a culture where men Tweet “This Bartoli chick is a fat slob” and “Bartoli doesn’t deserve to win because she’s ugly” and other even more awful more profane tweets, many captured by Laura Bates of @EverydaySexism.
For her part Marion gave an answer that made me want to stand up and cheer: "It doesn't matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I'm sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes." And win she did. Congratulations Marion, we’re pretty sure your legs are exactly long enough to kick these jerks asses, and it’s classy that you didn’t.