Belfast Telegraph

Wimbledon: BBC man apologises after calling UK tennis prodigy Robson fat

A BBC commentator was forced to apologise to tennis prodigy Laura Robson after pointing out her “puppy fat” on live television.

David Mercer discussed how the 16-year-old's weight was affecting her game while she was playing her second round juniors match at Wimbledon.

In the commentary, broadcast on Tuesday, Mercer said: “I suppose the one thing that I have at the back of my mind at the moment, is Laura mobile enough around the court?

“Perhaps a little puppy fat at the moment, the sort of thing you'd expect her to lose as she concentrates on tennis full-time.”

Robson won a place in the semi-finals of the Wimbledon girls' singles after beating fellow Briton Tara Moore (17) yesterday afternoon.

Speaking afterwards, her mother Kathy, said: “We don't care. Who's some BBC reporter? I don't know him, he doesn't know us. The important thing is that she's in the semi-finals.”

Robson said Mercer's comments did not bother her.

She said: “It doesn't bother me at all. It's just his opinion.”

His comments went out live on Tuesday for viewers who used the BBC's interactive red button service. A BBC spokesman said: “David has apologised to Laura for any offence caused.”

Mercer, a former solicitor, was a Welsh junior doubles champion in 1968 and umpired the Wimbledon men's singles final in 1984.

As news of the furore hit the All England Club yesterday he was eating lunch in the Press canteen.

“I wouldn't call it a debacle at all. We are all sitting down later and going through the transcript so that I can actually see exactly what I said and I can then take a view on it,” he said.

Robson has overcome flu-like symptoms to keep her hopes alive of repeating her 2008 title success.

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