Andy Murray Defends Serena And Venus Williams & The Insidious Sexism That Plagues Them
After taking home his second gold medal, Team GB tennis player Andy Murray shut down sexism and won in a different way. He stood up for gender equality by denouncing a British TV and radio presenter's sexist ignorance, particularly with Serena and Venus William's historic wins.
Murray headed to Brazil in search of his second consecutive tennis singles medal. In besting Argentina's Juan Martín del Potro, he did just that. But that was not what BBC Sport's John Inverdale congratulated him for, and Murray didn't skip a beat in correcting him: "You're the first person to ever win two Olympic tennis gold medals, that's an extraordinary feat, isn't it?" Inverdale asked. Cue the most perfect response from Murray: "Well to defend the singles title, I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each ... it's obviously not an easy thing to do and I had to fight unbelievably hard to get it tonight as well. Yeah, I'll enjoy this one."
Mad props to Murray; it was the perfect way to put the presenter in his place. Since the interview was aired, Murray has been showered with praise on Twitter — even J.K. Rowling gave him a shout-out. "As if we needed more reasons to worship @andy_murray: he just reminded John Inverdale that women are people, too," she wrote. She was joined by politicians and Olympics fans from around the world.
No person has ever won two consecutive single golds, so his accomplishment was impressive. And that's on top of winning Wimbledon in July. "To finish with a match like that was very emotional," Murray told USA Today. "It's been a buildup of emotions over the last 10 days and I'm very happy I got over the line tonight. I'm so tired." It was likely his perfect ending to his Rio participation: He started off the games carrying the flag for the United Kingdom in the opening ceremony.
On the other side of the mic was of course Inverdale, and for him it has not been a win for his career nor his reputation. He has received a fair share of flack online both in social media and the mainstream press on both sides of the Atlantic. Inverdale is known for hosting all sorts of sporting events, from rugby to rowing, and, of course, tennis.
This is actually not the first time that Inverdale has made a sexist gaff. By comparison, this one is even quite small. He made the ultimate sexist comment back in July 2013 while providing on-air commentary for that year's Wimbledon Ladies Final about the eventual winner Marion Bartoli:
I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, "Listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you're never going to be 5ft 11, you're never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that."
The network apologized, but it didn't end there. Even the U.K. culture minister wrote a letter to the network expressing her concern. With such a doozy under his belt, you'd think he'd be extra careful not to follow his own footsteps and try to keep his foot out of his mouth. But given his slip-up, it's wonderful to see that male athletes will step in and put a commentator in his or her place like this. That's Olympian-level sportsmanship.