Saturday, July 25, 2009

Heard Around

by Savannah

ESPN's writer Kamakshi Tandon wrote the following in her column on the state of the WTA focusing on Venus Williams rousing defense of her sport and Dinara Safina's number one ranking after their match at Wimbledon.

Wasn't it a little embarrassing for the tour, Venus was asked. But she wasn't having any of it. "I respect Dinara Safina immensely, and I think you should, too," she replied coolly.

But the result only reinforced the conspicuous absence of a legitimate dominant player in the women's game, a void that has been in place since Justine Henin retired while holding the top spot in May 2008. In practice, Serena has filled the gap by winning three of the past four majors. But the perception has taken on a life of its own, helped by the revolving door of No. 1s.

Ms Tandon is entitled to to her opinion on the matter and I'm not referencing her because of her opinion. My problem is the title given to her post on the ESPN home page. Superimposed on a picture of Venus is the title "Missing Link". If you're under twenty you may not understand how offensive those words are to people of African descent in the United States. The phrase was used as a derogatory reference to American Blacks for many many years. Should the benefit of the doubt be given to the editor of the tennis home page? Are these things not checked prior to posting? Does Ms Tandon subscribe to the views inherent in the use of those words accompanied by the picture of Venus or is she ignorant of the implied message given to her otherwise normal post? The problem Ms Tandon is addressing, that another slamless number one sits atop the WTA, should have been accompanied by a picture of the current number one not the number three player. In fact Ms Tandon's piece is actually titled "WTA Missing Only One Ingredient". Why couldn't that be used over a picture of Dinara instead of a blatantly racist phrase that has nothing to do with the column.

I guess that people in some quarters think that people won't be paying attention to little things like this. Newsflash. We are.


Mariya said...

In defense of Kamakshi, she is Canadian and of non-North American heritage altogether, so I strongly doubt she could have had knowledge of any racial connotations of the title (I did not either).

ESPN editors should have the sense to check such things, though.

Savannah said...

Thanks Mariya.