AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post uses Australian English spelling rules.
At the women’s singles semi-final of this year’s Australian Open tennis major, at least two fans were seen on television holding a sign reading “Keep calm and be Serena” and…wait for it…wearing black face paint. “Serena” is Serena Williams of the United States, who won her semi-final match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and went on to lose the grand final to Angelique Kerber of Germany. While I’m not a fan of tennis at all, I do know enough about the sport to tell you that Serena is probably the top athlete in all of sports globally.
If you’re wearing blackface, you might claim to be supporting Serena, but you’re actually being very racist.
Blackface was commonly used in theatre plays for many, many years, with usage in the United States being commonplace well into the 1960’s. In blackface performances, white actors would wear black face paint to portray black people. For fans to employ racism that the theatre industry used is absolutely unacceptable, and something that Serena herself finds to be very offensive. I’m surprised that there are many Australians who are very racist, to tell you the truth.
After easily winning her second-round match of the women’s singles tournament at tennis’s Australian Open, Eugenie Bouchard of Canada was asked to do a twirl by a male reporter for the Seven Network, an Australian television network:
An unusual request greeted 20-year-old Canadian tennis phenom Eugenie Bouchard after she breezed her way into the third round of the Australian Open with an easy 6-0, 6-3 win over Kiki Bertens.
When Bouchard met the on-court interviewer — a man — to talk about the match, which lasted a mere 54 minutes, he asked her to “give us a twirl.”
Bouchard obliged, “somewhat uncomfortably” showing off her bright pink and yellow outfit, as the Associated Press reported…
Since virtually nobody would ask a male tennis player to do a twirl in a post-match interview, the Seven Network reporter acted in a sexist manner toward Eugenie Bouchard. Sadly, this isn’t the first time that Bouchard has been subject to sexism by a Seven Network reporter at an Australian Open. Last year, a female Seven Network reporter asked Bouchard who she would want to date if she could date anyone she wanted to, which is the type of question that virtually nobody would ask a male tennis player.
While I’m not a fan of tennis (in fact, I’ve never watched a tennis match before), I’m getting tired of the rampant sexism in the sports media. Sports journalists should stick to asking tennis players questions about their tennis game.