Time for a (huge) bit of irreverence in my Bank of the West postings…
I’m sitting in the stands for one of the many matches I watched last week at the Bank of the West. I think it was Friday, a long day of quarterfinals. I’m not sure how and when, but I guess the word had finally spread that I was covering the event for LGBT tennis-loving folks out there in the GLTF and beyond. Basically, I was "the resident gay guy".
Next to me in the stands was Marissa of TennisPanorama.net. Having realized I was "the resident gay guy", she asked me a question about something she had heard earlier in the tournament.
"Kevin, is it true that Marion Bartoli is kind of a gay tennis icon?"
After almost spitting out my water — there was actually no water, but I’m sure I would have spit some out if I HAD been drinking some — I gave her my best combination "Did I just hear you right?" and "Are you kidding me?" faces. I really do have this repertoire of faces… just ask my partner!
It turns out that she had been discussing Marion Bartoli with another writer earlier, and this subject that had come up. Of course she came to me, "the resident gay guy", for verification. After recovering my composure, I told her emphatically "NO", Marion is not a gay icon nor is she even close to becoming one. Just to confirm, Marissa asked if that was just my opinion or that of the greater gay population? I reiterated (probably giving her a few more incredulous looks) that there was no way Marion had reached that status for us yet.
It’s not like the old days where we had many iconic players from which to choose: Monica, Steffi, Conchita, Lindsay, Anna, Martina I, Martina II, Jennifer, Amelie, Justine, et. al. Of the current roster, the only top players I can think of who are at that level are Venus, Serena and Maria on the first tier, followed (maybe) by Francesca, Kimiko and Kim. Kim gets second-tier status because she looks like a hausfrau… I’m sorry but that’s how it goes.
Here is a good litmus test of what it takes to be a gay icon in tennis. If people dress up like you for San Francisco’s yearly spectacle of Halloween in the Castro, then it’s a safe bet that you have reached gay icon status. I have seen several of the above women represented in costumes at this event. Heck, even I have threatened to dress up as Serena one of these years for Halloween. I think I would make a great Serena. But I refuse to do it wearing the "cat suit".
Sam Stosur gets a special exemption as a "lesbian icon". I’m not sure what it is about her (hope my GLTF bud Barb can help me out here), but the lesbians LOVE Sam! What’s not to love though? Great legs, six-pack abs, cute face, nice disposition, extra points for being Aussie… Absolutely no killer instinct for winning, but that’s okay. They love her anyway.
So back to Marion. No, no, a thousand times no. I told Marissa that if Marion can get to tennis’ "Cher" status, whereby the average gay recognizes who you mean when you say just her first name, then we can talk about icon status!
I must say, however, there is something oddly fascinating about the ballet "fourth position" she takes just before beginning her service motion. Fascinating like watching Cirque du Soleil, that is. The ex-dancer in me just knows that there will be something great from this, like a pirouette or a jump. Sometimes she even makes a curtsy motion as well. It’s all set up for something big and dancer-ly… and then she serves a 110mph service winner. Huh?!?!?!?!? What the …??? It leaves the dancer in me feeling unsatisfied every time I see it.
Marion also needs to work on a few things first… namely her ability to walk in heels. I promised to show Marissa my impression of Marion walking in her nearly 6 inch pumps I spotted on her way to the player promotion party. It was not pretty. She is a bit bow-legged anyway, and pumps only accentuate that fact. The walk itself? Imagine a male truck driver getting out of his cab with stiff legs and something, how should I delicately put this, goosing him in the rectal region.
It was not pretty. I really do like Marion, but it was a no-go on the heels. As resident gay guy I pride myself in my impersonations of women walking in heels… and mine of Marion had Marissa and others on the floor laughing. Maybe instead of wishing I’d asked a question in her press conference about which Williams sister serves harder, I should have offered my services to help her with her runway walk. If Miss J from America’s Next Top Model can do it, then so can I!
Marissa: If you read this posting, thanks for being a good sport with my storytelling embellishments!