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Jul. 1 2009 - 1:24 am | 4 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Centrefold Court

Anna Kournikova during the semi-finals of a do...

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It always seemed like the British were more evolved than we were. They have free health care. They’re polite. They make wonderful cockles. But who would’ve thought they would sully a most prestigious sports event like Wimbledon with a preference for showcasing T&A in Centre Court.

Where is Serena Williams? Where is Dinara Safina? The high seeds have been pushed to the kids’ table (smaller, less grandiose courts like Courts 1 and 2). If this were America, we’d give some roundabout explanation that ultimately adds up to denial (“our scheduling is based on available space and copes with many contingencies”). But in Britain, the Wimbledon spokesman, Johnny Perkins, is a straight shooter:

“Good looks are a factor.”

This is not hyperbole. Roger Federer almost always plays on Centre Court. Why is it then that low seeded svelte lolitas like no. 59 Maria Kirilenko get slotted for Centre Court? An unidentified BBC source says:

“Obviously it’s advantageous to us if there are good-looking women players on Centre Court.

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

Sure we understand that people like to look at attractive people. But aren’t we undermining the integrity of a respectable sport with this drivel? Or are we really that deeply shallow?

Spokesman Perkins sticks to his guns when explaining the selection process:

“it’s a great big mixture of where the players are in the draw, who they’re playing, what their ranking is….it’s not a coincidence that those (on Centre Court) are attractive.”

Why don’t they just go to burlesque show if that’s what the chaps want to see? As a blunt-edged straight man, I’m as susceptible to sexy marketing as the next guy, but I take issue in dumbing down the sport for smut. Of course, it is a bad economy. Networks and newspapers are desperate. But let’s not let The Great Recession obscure the few remaining working misogynists. According to Michael Stich, a commentator for BBC radio, female tennis stars are as much about “selling sex” on court as they are about their sporting prowess. He adds:

“They want to look good, they pay attention to their looks and everything.”

In America, we have a way of dealing with our need for sex. It’s called porn. Maybe it hasn’t made it’s way across the pond.





2 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    Wimbledon’s Johnny Perkins is my new hero, the anti-PR-person. I just can’t decide if he’s a genius or simply daft. Meanwhile, you’ve clearly uncovered a market for the next great sporting event: Strip Tennis.

  2. collapse expand

    Yeah, gotta admire that he’s a striaght shooter. Would love to see Perkins run for congress in the US of A.

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    If you are consoled by absurd--whether it's auctioning off virginity or adding cocaine alkaloids to Red Bull--you're in the right place. We can't have hope without knowing our contradictions. It's lonely being a gadfly. I'm currently a Sr. Editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine and I've written for numerous publications (from travel, to personal essays, to entertainment) including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Rolling Stone and the now defunct, but missed, New York Sun.

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