OPINION: The ugly reality of women's tennis
I am not a tennis fan. I've never watched a single game from start to finish. Tennis just doesn't really appeal to me. However, I know when there are major tennis championships and who's who. Yesterday, Serena William thrashed Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in the semi-finals.
According to what I've read, the two have met 19 times and Serena has won 16 times. So her victory on Thursday in their 20th meeting didn't come as a surprise and she's now through to the finals of this year's Wimbledon event.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a fan so I did not watch the game. I only saw the results on the news. However, I did read an article from The Daily Mail in which the writer compared the two ahead of the much-awaited game. What struck me were the descriptions used for the two athletes.
They described Serena as the "more physically powerful, with a ferocious temper" and Maria as "media-friendly combination of blonde Siberian beauty and sponsor-friendly image control".
Basically, they said Serena has nothing on Maria's blonde looks. I was taken back. It was 2015 and two athletes were about to battle it out and someone turned the whole thing into a beauty contest. I gasped thinking 'sexism much' and 'down disrespectful'.
They also included the fact that Maria's boyfriend was once Serena's lover. Don't ask me what that has to do with tennis.
Earlier in the week, Kevin Anderson played Novak Djokovic. Don't ask me how I know these things. I may not be a fan, but I read. But I digress. I don't remember reading anything about their looks. They were compared based on their past performance on the court. So why does it become about beauty when it's women's tennis?
I also came across comments on social media on Serena's looks. This is someone who's a treasure in the sport and yet she's bombarded with sexism from internet trolls. They have a lot to say about her looks and very little about her achievements in the sport. Serena has 20 Grand Slam titles to her name.
Back to the article; if you're going to preview a Serena/Maria match, how about sticking to facts, like how many times they've played and what the outcome was?
I'm sure there are ways to describe female tennis players without trolling Serena and Venus Williams. Or if looks are really important when it comes to tennis, then it should apply to all players, including the males.
Lindiwe Mlandu is a member of the Eyewitness News team in Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter: @LindiweMl
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