Kim Sears swears: Andy Murray's girlfriend accused of racism with her tirade

Pundits divided over comments apparently caught on camera

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The Independent Online

Supporting your loved one is one thing, but Andy Murray’s fiancée appears to some to have verged on racially abusing his opponent during the semi-final of the Australian Open. Kim Sears’ mistake, it would seem, was not simply swearing at Tomas Berdych, but in mentioning the fact that he is Czech while doing so. The 27-year-old was clearly pumped up watching Murray take on Berdych, with tension over the match heightened by the fact that the Czech player happens to be coached by Murray’s friend and former coach Dani Vallverdu.

And towards the end of a close first set during Thursday’s match, which Murray would go on to lose, a scowling Ms Sears was seen by millions watching on TV clearly mouthing an expletive-filled tirade against Berdych. Murray had broken serve when Berdych served for the first set at 5-3. As Murray made his trademark clenched fist after winning the game, TV cameras switched to his fiancée’s reaction - seemingly shouting out, according to lip readers, “f***ing having that you Czech f***ing f***.”

To some, like anti-racism campaigner Weyman Bennett, of Unite Against Facism, her remarks represent “the thin end of a racist edge because the problem is, whether he is Czech or not, referring to him being Czech is irrelevant”. Speaking to The Independent, he added: “I think she should apologise because what happens is when people have these prejudicial feelings they come out at a point of tension or a point of conflict.”

 

And a spokesperson for Show Racism the Red Card described Ms Sears’ comments as “unnecessary and ill advised” and added: “When someone says something of this nature, all we can do is ask them to reflect on it and consider whether an apology is appropriate.”

Asked about his fiancee’s choice of language, during the post-match press conference, Murray muttered “in the heat of the moment you can say stuff that you regret”. Keen to change the subject, he added: “And, yeah, that’s it.”

Ms Sears’ outburst was initially welcomed, with German tennis player Andrea Petkovic tweeting “I love Kim Sears so much”, and former British number one Anne Keothavong describing it as “f***ing hilarious”. But others have failed to see a funny side, with Murray’s fiancée under attack from people who have taken offence at her behaviour.

Wladyslaw Mejka tweeted: “Just what did Tomas's ethnicity have to do with it ? #racism” Another posting their views online today was Chris Hagen, who said: “Kim Sears is an out and our racist. Can you imagine calling Serena an "African fuck" and getting away with it?” And one Twitter user, Teknofish, referring to a case in 2011 when a postman was convicted of racially aggravated criminal damage, including a poster on which he had dubbed Andy Murray a "jock", tweeted: “Postman who called Andy Murray 'useless jock' is convicted of racism - Now what about #KimSears?”

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Andy Murray has defended his fiancé (Getty Images)

But Lord Dubs, one of the Czech children rescued from the Nazis in the Kinderstransport, commented: “If someone said stupid effing Brit would we see it as racism or would we see it as normal ordinary abuse? It’s a daft thing to do but it doesn’t sound to me as if it was meant as racism. I think it’s probably on the margin of whether it’s racist or not.”

And the incident is a storm in a teacup, according to Tereza Porybna, the director of the Czech Centre in London. She described the reaction as “a little bit over the top” and added: “I think personally it’s in bad taste but I don’t necessarily think it’s racist, I just think it’s bad taste.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Czech government said: “As a matter of principle the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic makes no comment on communication means and form a private individual decides to employ during sports events.”

Ms Sears has remained silent about the incident, and her publicist declined to comment. Whatever the truth of what Ms Sears really said, or thought, about Berdych, she will be under intense scrutiny for any signs of a repeat performance when Murray attempts to defeat Novak Djokovic on Sunday and win the Australian Open.

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