Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

What an ugly slur on winner Marion

Champion duo: Marion Bartoli and Andy Murray
Champion duo: Marion Bartoli and Andy Murray

What on Earth possessed the BBC's John Inverdale to make his "never going to be a looker" comments about new Wimbledon women's champion Marion Bartoli?

Apart from marring Ms Bartoli's greatest day, it was a remark straight from the arsenal of the bar room bore, stuffed to the gills with a few pints and pseudo philosophy: "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'll have to be scrappy and fight'?"

Do you think Monsieur Bartoli was some kind of monster, John, going around telling his daughter that she's not quite the thing?

Also, it's totally meaningless. Sharapova is no three in the world. I think we can be sure she didn't win all those Grand Slam tournaments because her opponents were dazzled by her blonde hair, dazzling smile and long legs.

While Inverdale Alan Partridged away, it was hard to imagine even an old traditionalist like the legendary Dan Maskell resorting to such crass observations.

Then again, there is a world of difference between an olde worlde gentleman and a new lad.

But Inverdale's outrageously sexist comments – since apologised for by the BBC – reveal an implicit double standard in sports coverage in this country. When it comes to women looks count even when superficially they don't.

Could you imagine such a comment on Match of the Day? Of course not. Male sporting heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Oh yes, it's let a thousand flowers bloom then.

You'd never hear any of the lads saying "Well, he's never going to be a looker like Thierry Henry ..."

No, Inverdale – who, let's remember is a seasoned BBC pro and not some nervous ex-player pundit trying to carve out a new career – and his casual cruelties point to a bitter truth.

Namely, it doesn't matter how fast a women serves or how good her backhand is, these talents are even more noteworthy when performed by a 'looker'.

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