Sunday, June 28, 2009

They Actually Admit It

by Savannah

To my knowledge it's not a day traditionally given over to practical jokes so I have to assume this article is legit.
Emily Andrews and Colin Fernandez filed this report about which women get chosen to appear on Centre Court at tradition bound Wimbledon. I'm posting the pictures that accompanied the article along with the captions because even as jaded as I am I can't believe TPTB admitted what goes into their decision regarding the women players. Amazing.

The bolded section is my doing not the authors.

Babe, set and match: How looks count for more than talent when they decide which girls will play on Centre Court
Last updated at 12:32 AM on 29th June 2009

When it comes to choosing which women play on Centre Court, good looks count for more than big shots.

While a succession of easy-on-the-eye unknowns have appeared in Wimbledon's prime arena, the top women's seeds have been relegated to lesser courts.

The unseeded world No 45, Gisela Dulko, during last week's Battle of the Babes

And last night the All England Club admitted that physical attractiveness is taken into consideration.

Spokesman Johnny Perkins said: 'Good looks are a factor.'

World No 59 Maria Kirilenko of Russia

In the men's tournament, five-times winner Roger Federer and British hope Andy Murray invariably play on Centre.

But on Friday, after Federer left the court, the next match was Victoria Azarenka of Belarus against Romania's Sorana Cirstea.

While both 19-year-olds have top form in the glamour department, Miss Cirstea was seeded 28 while Miss Azarenka, who won, is ranked and seeded eighth.

That same day, second seed Serena Williams was relegated to the new No 2 Court for her win over Italian Roberta Vinci.

No 28 seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania

The fact that many seats remained empty for the Cirstea-Azarenka clash implies that the knowledgeable SW19 crowd were underwhelmed by the tennis on offer.

Which would suggest that attractive players are placed on Centre to titillate the BBC television audience, some of whom care more for a pretty face than a powerful forehand.

A BBC source said: 'It's the Wimbledon play committee, not us who decides on the order of play.

'But obviously it's advantageous to us if there are good-looking women players on Centre Court.

'No one has heard of many of the women now, so if they are pretty it definitely gives them an edge.

'Our preference would always be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing figures.'

On Wednesday, Centre delivered exactly that - the so-called Battle of the Babes between unseeded Gisela Dulko (world ranking 45) and unseeded Maria Sharapova (ranking 60).

No 5 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia

Then on Thursday ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki defeated Russian Maria Kirilenko, 59 in the world, on Centre while No 1 seed Dinara Safina was downgraded to an outer court.

Miss Safina, 23, said: 'I mean of course it's not fair, but then I'm not doing the schedule.'

French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 24, was also annoyed.

No 1 seed Dinara Safina of Russia

The fifth seed, who was knocked out on Saturday on No 1 Court, said: 'It's weird. If you look at the schedule, it's not only about me. It's about Dinara on Court No 2, Venus (Williams) on Court No 1 and the girls who are not very highly seeded they play on Centre.

'I respect them. They're great players for sure. But this is what's weird for me; what's their strategy, what's their plan of making the schedule?

'This is what surprises me a little bit.'

Twice champion Serena Williams even got lost on the way to No 2 Court on Friday.

She was nearly ten minutes late for her match.

No 2 seed Serena Williams of the U.S.

Johnny Perkins said court selection is 'a great big mixture of where the players are in the draw, who they're playing, what their ranking is.

But at the end of the day, box-office appeal has to be taken into consideration.

'It's not a coincidence that those (on Centre Court) are attractive.'

I hope all of you who think people like me were blowing smoke about the focus of the WTA under Larry Scott will now admit that you were wrong. And to an extent so was I. I never knew about the "Battle of the Babes" alluded to in this article. I just knew that neither player had any business on Centre Court and said so. I guess the WTA doesn't care about empty seats for it's product. That anyone would say no one has heard of Venus Williams or Serena Williams is a joke. If the casual fan hasn't heard of Dinara Safina or Svetlana Kuznetsova that is the fault of the tour.

I wonder if any of the talking heads have the cojones to talk about this article and it's implications.


oddman said...

Well, that just stinks.

Helen W said...

The WTA has been selling its product by sex for a long time. Some of the tournaments do the same thing. So this is just one more step down that path.

I guess I'm old fashioned, but I think it's pathetic that tennis has stooped to this level. And the subtext is that tennis is not interesting enough in its own right.

Savannah said...

It's an insult to women athletes Helen. In this case the women who are among the "chosen" just for looks and the women who are pushed aside for the "babes". They would never get away with this on the men's side.

Savannah said...

Steffi Graf, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Martina Navratilova would never be seen on Centre Court would they?

Let's bring back the times when talent counted.

pompelmo said...

I think women's tennis is perceived more as a flavor than the real thing. Yet, if not for the babes, the others cannot get the prize money or sponsorship deals they are getting now. I don't think any women sport except for tennis offers exceptional income. No women's game receive attention similar to men's version. The money comes from sponsors and marketing, and there looks certainly count. You have to accept it, or you cannot watch tennis on tv, and parents/children will not be drawn into the game professionally for less than enough earnings.

This is absolutely sexism, but it's the way how the capitalist world works.

vw said...

Ana got crappy courts too this time and she's seeded 13.

Craig Hickman said...

I have found the comments I've read elsewhere trying to explain this way to be the most interesting part of this disrespect. When those in the know admit that they consider sex appeal in Centre Court scheduling, how can anecdotal evidence to the contrary be anything but moot?