Seles attacks soft-porn quality of tennis coverage

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The Independent Online
Monica Seles, the former world number one female tennis player, has attacked the media's "obsession" with lascivious images of young players.

The 23-year-old said that during the Wimbledon fortnight more attention was paid to the women's outfits and bodies than to their ability as tennis players.

Prurient pictures of the younger players' underwear and short skirts were "the focus of this year's women's Wimbledon" she said yesterday.

"There were lots of pictures of Martina's knickers and Anna's short skirt. This year I think they went too far with all that. These are 15- and 16- year-olds. These are babies," she said, in reference to Anna Kournikova, the 16-year-old Russian player, and Martina Hingis, the Wimbledon champion.

"It's a different mind at 16 than at 21 - they aren't fully developed," she said.

Stories about cellulite affecting Martina Hingis and comments about Seles' weight abounded in the tabloid press during Wimbledon.

Seles said there was an unhealthy fixation with players' weight, which was driving younger players to eating disorders.

"There's too much pressure on women and girls, it's sad. It's important to be healthy, but it shouldn't be this fixation.

"When you are young and you want to make everyone happy, you take everything personally, you want to live up to everybody's expectations. If you look thin and you look good, you must be a good person and we love you - that's how society looks at it. And then you look in the mirror and you are a size two and you think you are fat," she said.

Seles, who is almost two stone heavier than she was two years ago, admitted she was overweight and over-eating because of worries about her father Karolj who is terminally ill with stomach cancer.Emotionally it's hard to exclude what's going on and my dad's struggle. I can't," she said.

During the Wimbledon fortnight, the sports minister, Tony Banks, attacked the coverage of women's tennis as "sexist" and said he was appalled that "so much of women's tennis is treated like soft porn".

He said: "We have read nothing about Tim Henman or Greg Rusedski's choice of underwear or their body shapes."

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