Caroline Wozniacki’s love life, Venus Williams?s knickers and women going bra-less to avoid falling foul of Wimbledon?s strict all-white dress code are apparently fair game for discussion during The Championships.
But one topic has remained notably off-limits. Under no circumstances must you mention the ?f? word in relation to female tennis players. Just don?t even go there.
I?m not talking about ?fat?, but ?fitness?. To dare to suggest a female athlete is not in the best physical condition, that her physique does not give her the optimal chance of success in her sport, has become taboo.
Public eye: Caroline Wozniacki’s love life has been the subject of much scrutiny
Venus Williams had intimated that she would add a splash of colour under her tennis whites but there was no evidence of it on game day
You can dissect a forehand or a serve at length, but pointing out the obvious ? that her speed, movement or stamina might benefit from more time in the gym ? is a no-no. You might hurt someone?s feelings, or risk being labelled a sexist dinosaur, when actually this is all part of learning to appraise the athlete first and the female second. But, clearly, we?re not at that point yet.
It requires a lot of tact to navigate this tricky course and so many choose to steer clear of it or just concentrate on the designer dress the player happens to be wearing.
Female body image in sport remains a pertinent and important issue, after all, with a BT Sport survey
earlier this year finding 80 per cent of elite sportswomen felt pressure to conform to a certain look: namely that of the skinny, big-breasted women we see plastered over magazines and websites every day.?
WHAT I DID THIS WEEK
Have been very impressed with Andy Murray?s relaxed demeanour at Wimbledon and his willingness to answer questions on an off-beat range of topics (just don?t ask him to reflect on England?s World Cup performance). A British champion to savour, whatever happens this week.
Marvelled at Olympian Alysia Montano running in the 800 metres at the US Track and Field Championships despite being 34 weeks pregnant. She clocked 2min 32.13sec, too.
Thought it slightly ironic that former 100m world record-holder Asafa Powell will now require a ?medical exemption? to make Jamaica?s Commonwealth Games team after he missed the national trials with ?stomach flu?. Powell has only been given temporary leave to compete while he appeals against a drugs ban.
Not exactly the ideal physical role model for a young girl trying to achieve anything in sport, let alone enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
The pressure to dazzle in your Lycra becomes a burden for many, with an estimated 20 per cent of female athletes suffering from an eating disorder ? a shocking figure that is even higher in aesthetic disciplines such as gymnastics.
Extreme care ? from family, coaches, governing bodies and the media ? must be taken when talking about athletes? weight to avoid making these damning statistics even worse, or putting women off sport altogether.
But there is an important difference between cruelly labelling an athlete ?fat? and suggesting her conditioning needs improvement. This is not about looks or appearances, but efficiency.
Research has found a staggering 7.7 per cent of male athletes struggle with eating disorders, too, and yet we continue to judge a young footballer?s ?puppy fat? or appraise a man?s physical condition in the same way we might a racehorse in the paddock. So why is it different with women?
They?re supposed to be there to win as well, not just provide eye candy, yet it is judged as unkind to say their body, their machine and their meal ticket, needs a bit of fine tuning.
Taylor Townsend, 18, has revealed how being ‘fat shamed’ two years ago by the U.S. Tennis Association has helped her become the youngest American to reach the third round at the French Open in over a decade
This is not about being unnecessarily mean, cattily judging a player?s looks or assessing how good they will look on a magazine cover; it?s about pointing out a flaw in their game. We may not all have the natural gift, touch and flair of the elite, but fitness is something most of us can control.
There?s a player like that in most teams in lots of sports. They know they?re never going to be the most talented, but they work damn hard at making sure they?re the fittest.
In an individual sport like tennis, how can there be any excuse, injuries aside, for not being in the best physical condition you can possibly be?
Some of the British wildcards who have been seemingly content to pick up their cheques for
first-round exits at Wimbledon over the years might like to take note. But I?m probably not supposed to say that.
What they said…
Helena Costa revealed the real reasons behind her resignation as manager of men?s side Clermont Foot, citing the club?s ?total amateurism? and ?lack of respect? as they signed players without her knowledge and ignored her emails. How depressing. The French club had claimed Costa?s exit was ?for personal reasons? and have since hired another woman, Corinne Diacre, to take charge. Good luck to her ? something tells me she?ll need it.
No respect: Helena Costa revealed Clermont have signed players without her knowledge
Performance of the week
Danny Talbot beat sub-20-second man Adam Gemili to become British 200m champion on Saturday and book his place at the European Championships, adding to the Commonwealth berth he had already secured. He was overlooked for a spot in Britain?s World Championships team last year. What a way to prove a point.
Talbot (left) celebrates after winning the Men’s 200m Final in Birmingham on Saturday
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Don’t mention the ‘f’ word: Fitness of female tennis players has become taboo … – Daily Mail