The first major sports event of the calendar year is the Australian Open. While the January deep-freeze grips those of us in the north, the top men and women tennis players in the world head south to the sun to start another season. I’ve never been to Australia, but have met many an Aussie and have been pleased with the experience. However some would have you believe OZ needs to get with the times when it comes to the way women are treated. The recent on-court interview of my fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard may serve as an example.
After a recent victory in the early stages of the current Open, Genie was interviewed on the court by Ian Cohen. Having covered the usual tennis questions, Cohen then asked Bouchard: “Can you give us a twirl?”. Attempting to get the woman to spin and show-off her tennis attire one assumes. Clearly shocked and embarrassed Bouchard replied “A twirl?” and did her best to comply. We Canadians are so polite; she should have told him to get stuffed.
Last year a female interviewer in a similar situation asked Bouchard who she would like to date, among anyone in the world. Again a taken aback Bouchard, evidently addled by the Melbourne sun, did her best and said Justin Beiber.
What in the name of Evonne Goolagong do these questions have to do with tennis? I’m all in favour of a little personal background information, but not of this nature, and not during a post-match interview. That is what biographical pieces are for.
I’ve never been a big fan of on-court/field/ice interviews; particularly this sort where the focus of the entire audience is on an exhausted, over-heated athlete who probably just wants a shower. By all means interview the players after the match, but give them some time to gather their thoughts. If the goal of these interviews is to catch the players off-guard, it is working, but not in a good way.
Would they ask the same sort of idiotic questions of male players? And what about female players who may not be young and attractive like Ms. Bouchard? If they don’t get the same sexist treatment should they feel slighted? Offended”? I would think relieved would be appropriate.
I imagine these interviews are part of the television rights contract and that players are bound to participate. The folks who are doing the interviews, Tennis Channel, might want to take a long second look at some of the questions and interviewers. Perhaps then they will realize they are making fools of themselves around the world.
I believe it is going to take the top players refusing to answer the stupid questions to get this nonsense behind us.