Various bloggers over at Women Talk Sports have already mentioned this issue, so–having been scooped–I’m simply adding to the discourse.
In a one step forward, two steps forward kind of way, Wimbledon has stopped putting Miss (or Mrs.) on the scoreboard. (Though the umpires still use the honorifics during matches.) But in a move that is so very high school, the Wimbledon powers-that-be have decided to schedule women’s matches on the show courts based on looks. And everyone has noticed–even ESPN where columnist LZ Granderson writes:
Doing so [selling sex] might hurt some of the players’ feelings, but it’s not undermining the integrity of the sport. Court assignments don’t affect the outcome of the match or tournament.
Well sometimes court assignments do affect outcomes–I mean there is a reason court 2 (the former court 2 anyway) at Wimbledon was called “the graveyard of champions.” OK so that’s mostly superstition but don’t think that tennis does not have certain home-court advantage aspects.
More importantly, though, it does affect the integrity of the sport. One would think that tennis, Wimbledon especially, would be attempting to rectify its sexist, homophobic, and racist ways. But no. That both Williams sisters got sent to court 2 (the new one) along with French Open finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova while younger, blonder, whiter, more heteronormative players got to play Centre and Court 1 is indicative of the multiple and intersecting discriminations that still go largely unchecked.
This article notes, interestingly, that the “babe factor” is not necessarily a recent phenomenon. Citing Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen, the author reports (citing Susan Cahn) that Lenglen effectively combined athleticism and eroticism. Of course she also had 6 French Open and 6 Wimbledon titles.
Of course tomorrow the Williams sisters will be on Centre Court playing one another. Because even though the pretty girls got their moments on the show courts last week–they all got sent home this week.
* Oh yeah. The play on words: “No doubt about it, [the young, pretty White girls’] looks and not their talent have won them prime playing time on Wimbledon’s best piece of grass.” Yep. Yesterday’s was better.