Posts Tagged ‘John Inverdale’

PostHeaderIcon Who’s to Blame for All of the Marion Bartoli Hate

Matthias Hangst/AELTC

Matthias Hangst/AELTC

What could Marion Bartoli possibly have done to deserve the hate and derision that she’s received online since winning Wimbledon?

It’s a puzzling question because Marion’s a thoroughly delightful young lady. She’s forthright in a sport filled with athletes who keep their cards close. She’s not afraid to show her vulnerable side, and is similarly not afraid to share her hopes, and whims. Remember her Pierce Brosnan crush from 2007?

She chats with fans, carries no sense of entitlement because of her status as a pro, is sincere, thoughtful, and singularly undeserving of the ill will that she’s received this past week.

Poor Marion didn’t even have the Venus Rosewater dish in hand before the first negative comments arrived, notably from the BBC’s John Inverdale during the final.

“I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker’.”

He framed it within the context that if she wasn’t going to be like Sharapova with respect to looks, height, and long legs, she needed to be (and is) a determined fighter. Sadly, his disrespectful comment was meant to be a compliment.

Inverdale issued an apology, of sorts, saying “I’ve apologised to Marion by letter if any offence was caused, and I do hope that we can leave the matter there.” But of course it didn’t end there for many who, like Mr. Inverdale, felt that Marion was not a fitting Wimbledon champion, and not deserving of their respect.

The blog Public Shaming compiled a cross-section of tweets that were sent to Marion and/or included her Twitter handle.  Many are offensive, and not fit to reprint. The following are the best of those with no profanity. I remind you, these are the “good” ones.

“bartoli is too ugly to win wimbledon” – @CamShu (active profile/deleted tweet)
“Someone as ugly and unattractive as Bartoli doesn’t deserve to win” – @Willshow95 (recently protected tweets)
“I demand an investigation into whether Bartoli in fact has a penis #Wimbledon” – @MillerJA9 (active profile)
“Bartoli is such an arrogant disrespectful masculine whore! I really don’t like her.” – @clairegrey95 (deleted profile)
“Bartoli you fat lesbian looking lump of shit, you let lisicki win now god damn it!” – @Lukeewharton (active profile)

(Along the “she must be lesbian” line of thought, 115 of 150 searches this past week were made using variants of bartoli and lesbian. Thankfully, there were no obscene comments. I’ve reprinted these tweets – with Twitter handles – to publicly call out those who feel okay in assaulting others under the guise of internet anonymity.)

It’s not surprising, however, that people who don’t know Marion would have negative feelings given the lack of respect she’s received over the years from the tennis establishment. She’s been the ongoing subject of negative commentary regarding her coach/dad, her odd training regimen, her on-court quirks, her fitness, her issues with the French Federation, etc.

If Marion’s not shown respect by the establishment (and associated media), why are we surprised that the general public, who are often clueless about players not named Serena or Maria, would have a hard time accepting her as a champion?

To be fair, not everyone has participated in these negative Marion discussions. Many notable commentators and players have rooted for her success. But the typical storyline on Marion has never been overly-positive about any aspect of her game or life, outside of the tired discussions about her high IQ.

In the interest of full disclosure, I also criticized Marion regarding her Champions Ball dress.  I felt that the tight black mini-dress wasn’t befitting the occasion. It wasn’t a sexist critique, nor did I hold her to a different standard than Andy. If he’d shown up in shorts, I would have criticized him too!

I like Marion, and am happy for this great triumph after all that she’s endured. No matter her quirks (which are arguably not as bad as Rafa’s), she’s always worked hard to become a better player. And her father, who got her to this point as her coach for most of her life, loves her very much. These are the important points, not her looks or any other nonsense.

The tennis establishment has made it easy for people like Inverdale and the haters because of its’ focus on good looks and star power. It stands to reason that if those at the top of the food chain are dismissive, then we can’t expect those at the bottom to be any better.

For her part, Marion’s shown tremendous class.  When told of Inverdale’s comments she replied, “It doesn’t matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry.”

“But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes. And to share this moment with my dad was absolutely amazing and I am so proud of it.”

You should be very proud, Marion, and I hope you finally get the respect that you deserve.

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