Unashamedly, I wanted Andy Murray to lose. Not in a nasty way. I like that young man. I like his determination and character. I like how he once said “anyone but England” when asked who he wanted to win the World Cup.
But, ultimately, that’s why I cheer his opponents. Andy Murray is Scottish and I am English. Ipso facto, when it comes to sport, I feel it my duty to wish him the very worst of luck.
I suspect he’d understand this and that if we ever met – over a pint of Robinsons Lemon and Barley Water, perhaps – we’d get along famously.
“Let’s not talk about tennis, though, Andy,” I’d say. “It’s all right for a fortnight but after that I imagine even you start pining for the football.”
Let’s not talk about tennis here, either.
Let’s talk about Andy Murray’s girlfriend, Kim Sears, instead. Let’s talk about the BBC’s John Inverdale describing women’s champion Marion Bartoli as “never going to be a looker”. Let’s talk about The Guardian, and how it said Murray was the first Briton to win Wimbledon since 1936 – a fact which is only true if women don’t count as people.
Let’s talk about sexism, baby. Let’s see if we can’t bang this bad boy to rights, here and now.
So, Murray’s girlfriend? What was that all about?
The BBC followed pretty much every shot he played on Sunday with their own shot of Sears in the stand. Quite often, there were slo-mo replays. It got so bad one wondered if the nation might be witnessing a sex pest camera man at work.
Which is wrong, isn’t it? When I’m watching sport, I don’t want to have to worry that I’m participating in some mass leching fest just because the player’s girlfriend happens to be kind of hot. Put it this way: you can bet your racquet the same screen time wouldn’t have been afforded to Marion Bartoli’s boyfriend. Ah. Which brings us to John Inverdale.
“Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her, ‘you’re never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy?” he asked on air.
To which one can only reply...WTF? Has he really just analysed the extraordinary pinnacle of this professional athlete’s career through the prism of her appearance? Good grief, he has, you know.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good politically incorrect gaffe (Prince Philip is basically my favourite comedian), but this sort of insidious stuff is damaging, isn’t it? Because if our most forward-thinking institutions – and the BBC supposedly is one – are providing a procession of casually sexist comments and images, it becomes normal; and we continue to live in a world where asking the temp for a shag – “no? well, do you mind lying down while I have one?” – is acceptable; or, you know, paying women less than men for the same job is considered okay.
And, in Britain 2013, that’s just not tennis, is it?