Women’s Sport vs. The Media – 23.06.13

jessica judd

We bet you can’t guess what the papers have mostly been writing about today…

The Sunday Times

Yes, the main focus of The Sunday Times today is, of course Wimbledon 2013.  That and The Lions, in any case.  Have we mentioned how much we’d love to see a women’s Lions tour at some point?  A topic for another day, perhaps.

All in all, this is a good sports section from The Sunday Times with Brits obviously taking precedence in the coverage stakes and, amazingly, the British women’s contingent taking at least as high billing as Andy Murray.  How’s that for progress?  Women also take centre stage in the paper’s European Team Championship athletics coverage with Jessica Judd, Perri Shakes-Drayton (who, as British captain, ran a PB 50.50 400m) and 18-year-old Jessica Judd taking mention.  Further in, there’s a good article on rowing’s Rio 2016 focus at this weekend’s World Cup, with Helen Glover and her new partner Polly Swann as well as Victoria Thornley all mentioned in depth.

So far so good, but we have a bone to pick with The Sunday Times and it arrives courtesy of the paper’s front page: ‘Maria Sharapova’, it yells, ‘has the looks, the serve and the money’.  Now admittedly this interview is found in the paper’s Style section, not its sport pages.  The same rules clearly don’t apply.  But way to objectify, guys.

The Mail on Sunday

Maria Sharapova again makes the front pages here and, again, it has nothing to do with tennis.  ‘Maria slams Serena over married lover’, the headline screams.  ‘We don’t care, please talk about the fricking tennis already’ replies The Sportist.  Eesh.

When it does get on with the tennis, remarkably The Mail on Sunday manages to pull an impressively snidey tone when it comes to the tournament’s female players.  First into the firing line comes Elena Baltacha, ‘the queen of the Wimbledon wildcard’ who is criticised for taking her ninth wild card entry to the tournament of her twelve appearances.  There’s a serious point here to be made about the nature of wildcards and the degree to which British tennis rewards modest performance, but doing so on the back of Baltacha’s Nottingham victory really isn’t the way to do it.  Next up, ‘I’ve no problem with Maria’ says Laura Robson, before realising this isn’t a manufactured cat fight, but actually a snippet on Robson’s belief that she can conquer first round opponent Maria Kirilenko, seeded tenth in the tournament.  ‘Elena’s a successful single girl’ – the news that Elena Vesnina, a doubles champion at the French Open, claimed victory in the AEGON International at Eastbourne yesterday, defeating Jamie Hampton 6-2 6-1.

John Lloyd’s brief column pleasingly notes the brilliance of Serena Williams and the continuing development of Laura Robson as she grows into the upper reaches of the women’s tennis rankings.

And then….Sharapova vs. Williams.  Look, clearly, there is a huge sporting rivalry here.  These are two of the greatest players of the current time facing off time and again in the latter stages of the four majors.  That’s a story.  An alleged personal tiff between the two of them really is not.  Heather Watson also takes a mention, but again, dressing room politics rather than sporting aptitude take the stage.

British women’s athletics gets a mention too, but by this point we were fully expecting the article to be about how one athlete dislikes another’s footwear and, frankly, couldn’t face reading the detail.

The Independent on Sunday

Interestingly, The Independent on Sunday is the only paper of this week’s selection which doesn’t put a huge Wimbledon picture on the front page.  Unusual.

The paper does go big on tennis once you get into the heart of it, but disappointingly also decides to take the angle of Sharapova vs. Williams off-the-court: ‘[Sharapova] takes on Serena Williams in a battle of the (alleged) ex-boyfriends’.  WE DO NOT CARE, PLEASE TALK ABOUT THE FRICKING TENNIS ALREADY.  Ahem.

Things get an awful lot better, though, with the sport team’s five women to watch in the tournament (Jamie Hampton, Kristina Mladenovic, Urszala Radwanksa, Sloane Stephens and Donna Vekic) as well as a full page on Varvana Lepchenko, once of Uzbekistan and now representing the US at Wimbledon.  It’s a hugely interesting tale and a wholly different angle on the tennis phenomenon than we usually get to see.

Elsewhere, Mo Farah is the athletic focus, but the country’s female competitors get a strong mention.  It may not be the best week for The Independent on Sunday, but at the very least you can always rely on it for a different take on the week’s sporting action.

The Sunday Telegraph

SERENA WILLIAMS EXCLUSIVE screams the front page of The Sunday Telegraph‘s sports section, and it’s a good job they do because this is a cracking interview and a fascinating insight into arguably the greatest women’s tennis player of all time.  The Sunday Telegraph is to be applauded for the piece, not least because it largely dismisses non-sporting material for a focus on the very thing Williams is in London to achieve.  Excellent.

They then, of course, spoil things utterly instantly after: ‘Claws are out as Sharapova steps up war of words with Serena’.  WE DO NOT CARE, PLEASE TALK ABOUT THE FRICKING TENNIS ALREADY.  Ahem.

Again, Farah takes the athletics focus with the now expected mention of Shakes-Drayton, Jessica Judd et al, but that’s your lot.  Of course it is.

The Observer

We love The Observer.  We love it a great deal this week.  A great deal more than usual.  First off, athletics, and in a break with tradition its the arrival of Jessica Judd which takes precedence amongst the European Team Championships coverage, which is really quite wonderful.

Equally wonderful is a full page profile of Tennis’ former World Number 1, Caroline Wozniacki who comes across as driven and remarkably grounded given, as the paper notes, ‘A few weeks short of her 23rd birthday it seems ridiculous that Wozniacki is being written off while still so young’.   Not so great is the fact that The Observer also feels duty bound to report on Sharapova vs. Williams THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL.  WE DO NOT CARE, PLEASE TALK ABOUT THE FRICKING TENNIS ALREADY.  Ahem.

That could have been your lot.  But it isn’t, thanks to five pages on Life After the Olympics in the eyes of six Olympic and Paralympic athletes.  Jade Jones (Taekwondo), Tiffany Porter (Hurdling) and Hannah Cockroft (T34 100m and 200m) are the female constituents and it’s a remarkably interesting read covering the highs and lows of a world of post-London 2012 competition.


Image from guardian.co.uk – thank you!!


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