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'It’s a pity my dentist doesn’t look like that' - BBC Wimbledon commentator apologises over remark about tennis player's girlfriend

By Samuel Stevens

Published 01/07/2016

Andrew Castle
Andrew Castle
Britain's Marcus Willis salutes the crowd after Switzerland's Roger Federer won their men's singles second round match on the third day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2016. Pic Getty Images
Jennifer Bate, girlfriend of Marcus Willis who takes on Roger Federer on day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Pic PA
Jennifer Bate arrives for boyfriend's Marcus Willis' match against Roger Federer on day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Pic: Steve Paston/PA Wire.
Marcus Willis is applauded by girlfriend Jennifer Bate (left) and parents Cathy and James Willis after his match against Roger Federer on day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Pic: Steve Paston/PA Wire.
Jennifer Bate (centre) applauds boyfriend Marcus Willis during his match against Roger Federer on day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Pic: Steve Paston/PA Wire.
Jennifer Bate (centre) after watching boyfriend Marcus Willis lose to Roger Federer on day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Pic Steve Paston/PA Wire.
Marcus Willis of Great Britain reacts during the Men's Singles second round match against Roger Federer of Switzerland on day three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Switzerland's Roger Federer jumps for a return against Britain's Marcus Willis in their men's singles second round match on the third day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2016. Getty Images
Marcus Willis of Great Britain celebrates winnig a point during the Men's Singles second round match against Roger Federer of Switzerland on day three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Jennifer Bate (left) cheers on boyfriend Marcus Willis during his match against Roger Federer on day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 29, 2016. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Steve Paston/PA Wire.
Marcus Willis is applauded by the crowd after his match against Roger Federer on day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 29, 2016. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Steve Paston/PA Wire.
Jennifer Bate, girlfriend of Marcus Willis takes a selfie on centre court on day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Pic: Steve Paston/PA Wire.
Roger Federer consoles Marcus Willis on day Three of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Pic: Steve Paston/PA Wire.

Andrew Castle, the tennis commentator, has courted controversy after offering an opinion on the appearance of Marcus Willis’ girlfriend during the BBC's coverage of Wimbledon.

As Dr Jennifer Bate, a dental surgeon, appeared on-screen during Willis' second round defeat by Roger Federer, the 52-year-old said: “It’s a pity my dentist doesn’t look like that."

The remarks attracted criticism on social media as viewers labelled Mr Castle, a former player himself, both “sexist” and “lecherous” – eventually prompting the broadcaster to apologise for his comments after initially defending them on Twitter.

He wrote shortly after: “Brilliant. I knew there would be someone just you who would comment. Earnest, humourless and probably no fun at all. Regards.”

 

Responding to one user who bemoaned a lack of “enjoyment in the world”, Castle then offered an apology to anyone he may have been offended during the coverage. “Obviously never mean to upset anyone,” he added. “If I did then I apologise.”

It has been reported that the BBC have received a "small number" of complaints but it remains unclear if they will investigate after Dr Bate moved to reassure Castle that no offence had been taken on her part.

Addressing the issue on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, she said: “It's disappointing that some mistake funny, lighthearted comments for being sexist. I find it hilarious, no offence taken!”

Three years ago, John Inverdale was accused of misogyny after saying of Marion Bartoli’s appearance: “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little: ‘You’re never going to be a looker’?”

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