Since When Did Personality And Looks Become More Important Than Tennis? Featured

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Some people never seem to be satisfied with their sports stars. Not content that they can play their chosen sport to superhuman levels of skill, training relentlessly and gruellingly, day in day out, they also seem angry if they don’t fit the prototype of how a sportsman or woman ‘should be’. Both of Wimbledon’s 2013 Singles Champions succinctly demonstrate this, with Andy Murray whiningly derided as being miserable, grumpy and boring, and Marion Bartoli receiving with a slew of sickening remarks about her appearance.


Andy Murray has been called miserable and unemotional by many, with journalists and members of the public frequently complaining about the lack of jazz hands and cartwheels of joy during his matches. In interviews he is matter of fact, straight to the point and uninterested in divulging grandiose emotions and clichéd stock answers about inspiring moments and overcoming challenges. This seems to anger people, as if it makes him an unworthy recipient of all these accolades, as if he should be happier to be there, as if he should put on more of a show for them (as if the exhausting tennis wasn't enough...).


The beautiful French tennis player Marion Bartoli has received some inexcusable comments about her appearance from BBC 5 Live commentator John Inverdale and a merciless section of the twittersphere. Inverdale questioned on Radio 5 Live whether Bartoli’s father had ever said to her that she would ‘never be a looker’ like tennis player Sharapova. On Twitter, comments were even more merciless, implying that her appearance meant that she did not deserve to win, with many dismissing her for not fulfilling their ideal of how they thought a female tennis player should look.


Since when does how you look determine how worthy you are of winning a sporting competition? Although these opinions only represent a minority, it is sad that such cruel narrow-mindedness can make headlines at a time when we should be celebrating Marion’s unbelievable sporting talent, rather than bullying her from the cowardly anonymity of the internet. 


Who cares if Murray can’t be bothered to smile for the camera? Who cares if he doesn't go around the court kissing babies, gushing with tears and emotion? I for one have always liked the fact that Murray refuses to be a celebrity – he refuses to change his persona for the public in order to win validation and acceptance, preferring instead to prove his worth through his tennis. I can imagine playing in a worldwide tennis championship is stressful enough, so I think we can forgive him for not grinning inanely after every shot. His joy at winning Wimbledon should be enough proof that he loves the game.


Both of them were there to play tennis excellently, and they’re definitely did that - surely that’s all that matters.

Frances Black

Second year English and Philosophy student at Leeds Uni. I write for the Leeds Student newspaper and BounceSIN, and I'm a Leeds Student Radio presenter.I love music, gigs, reading, writing, travelling, trying to speak Spanish, and many other exciting activities.

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