Marion Bartoli triumphed as a BBC reporter lamented the athlete wasn’t ‘a looker.’
Marion Bartoli lived out every tennis player’s dream when she won a Grand Slam title at Wimbledon yesterday—no small feat for any athlete, but particularly for one considered to be an underdog.
Nonetheless, the French tennis star found herself famous for another reason yesterday when BBC sports reporter, John Inverdale, made an on-air comment during Bartoli’s match about her lack of physical attractiveness.
“Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘You’re never going to be a looker? You’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?'”
Inverdale, who made no comments gaging the physical desirability of any of the male players, later (sort of) retracted his statement by saying, “We poked fun, in a nice way, about how she looks.” That did not help his case with the backlash he faced from viewers who were outraged.
Sensing the impending storm, BBC finally released a full apology on Inverdale’s behalf last night: “We accept that this remark was insensitive and for that we apologise.”
The announcer also later apologized to Bartoli via letter, though public demands for his dismissal continue.
But Inverdale wasn’t alone in his criticism. And sadly, his statement was more tactful than many that appeared on Twitter.
A throng of nasty tweets were published during Bartoli’s match, not only criticizing her for failing to meet expected standards of beauty, but demonstrating a level of hatred towards the player that seemed personal. Twitter users called Bartoli names and threatened her with violence—because they thought she was unattractive.
Since her win, the tennis champ has maintained the same level of professionalism that she had on the court. Bartoli proved she not only won Wimbledon but the Internet and life when she responded to critics matter-of-factly.