Wimbledon 2013: BBC receives 674 complaints over John Inverdale's 'sexist' Marion Bartoli comments


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The Independent Culture

The BBC has received 674 complaints over John Inverdale’s comments about Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli’s appearance.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s final on Radio 5 live, Inverdale said Bartoli was “never going to be a looker”.

He said: “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.'”

Inverdale’s comment sparked outrage on Twitter, with one user calling him a “sexist dinosaur”.

Tom Jamieson tweeted: “John Inverdale's made me realise as a dad I need to work much harder to enrich my two daughters' lives by telling them how ugly they are.“

While Richard Kent said: ”John Inverdale needs to go. @bbc5live Are you going to allow him to carry on? Comments re Bartoli are appalling.“

A statement from the BBC said: “John is one of our most experienced presenters. The BBC has apologised for the comment made before Saturday’s final, as has John himself. John has also written a personal apology to Marion Bartoli.”

In response to Inverdale's comments, Bartoli said: "I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I'm sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes."

Ahead of the BBC coverage of the men’s singles final yesterday, Inverdale addressed his ill-judged “clumsy” remarks on air.

”Before we start, I'd like to return to yesterday and a clumsy phrase that I used about Marion Bartoli which has understandably caused something of a furore,“ he said.

”The point I was trying to make in a rather ham-fisted kind of way is that the public perception of tennis players is that they're all 6 feet-tall Amazonian athletes.

“Marion, who is the Wimbledon champion, bucks that trend, and she is a fantastic example to all young people that it's attitude, and will and determination together obviously with talent that in the end gets you to the top.

“I've apologised to Marion by letter if any offence was caused and I do hope that we can leave the matter there.”