Search This Blog

Monday, 23 June 2014

Anyone for tennis - 1960s-style?

Tennis Champ chooses female trainer screamed a headline in the popular press this week and for a minute I thought I'd come across a 1960s newspaper. It seems Andy Murray's appointment of  the very capable Amelie Mauresmo has sent the clock flying back fifty years.

 The sixties was a time when magazines waxed lyrical about female airline pilots, women surgeons and solicitors as if  sexism  was finally going to be a thing of the past. Anything was  possible, they said  - even a female prime minister. 

Back in the sixties girls leaving school  were  being told to work as secretaries  or school teachers (my careers advisor  had apoplexy when I said I wanted to be a journalist) and university was still for the intellectually elite.  Babies were still more important than  degrees  and looking after the 'man in your life'  still championed by the middle classes.

But back to the tennis.  According to former ping-pong champion Matthew Syed writing in today's Times, 'the really bizarre thing has been the response of those who supported (Mauresmo's) appointment. Did they recognise her personal qualities, her knowledge of the game, her professionalism, her understanding of tactics, the sort of attributes that people cite when a man has been appointed to a high-profile coaching role?  Not a bit of it.' One commentator, he adds, even talked about Murray benefiting from a bit of 'mothering.'

Meanwhile, in the same piece, Jo Bostock of the Women's Sport Trust says coverage of the appointment made her want to 'throw a shoe at the wall.'  She adds 'It drives me crazy when I hear that women coaches care and nurture and help people though the tough times. The women coaches I know are hugely diverse, just like the male ones.'

Well said, but it still begs the question: why are women defending themselves in the first place? Why are we even talking about it? It doesn't stop there. The newspaper has photos of football manager Helena Costa, Syed's former coach Jackie Bellinger and basketball coach Nancy Lieberman with Antonio Daniels of the Texas Legends.

Sure that this must be a late April Fool's joke I flick through the main paper to see if I can find some more up-to-date news.

'Eat up your GM crops They're good for you.' says one headline. 'Divorce to be offered over the counter, says another.

Oh good, we're not in a time warp after all. It's just that time of the year when journalists say 'What on earth can we say about Wimbledon that we haven't said  hundreds of times before?'

Anyone for tennis?



Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

you sure we aren't in a time warp? I sure feel like we are sometimes :)
ohhh how I remember the 60's..sigh

Guernsey Girl said...

The sixties were a great time, Francie...maybe we just didn't realise how lucky we were? Not sure how I managed without my mobile phone, though! Good to hear from you x