After his comments about Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon, John Inverdale should be kept off the BBC airwaves today

Isn't it time the BBC woke up to the sexism at the heart of its sports broadcasting?

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The Independent Online

Marion Bartoli had just defeated favourite Sabine Lisicki in a straight-sets victory for the greatest prize in tennis. Thanking her father, watching from the player's box, an emotional Bartoli said she had been waiting for this moment since she was a six years old. The moment was hers. She should have won blanket praise and adulation.

But the Frenchwoman's childhood dream was spoilt by John Inverdale, one of the BBC's leading sports presenters and a face of Wimbledon. It emerged that, in the build-up to the match, he asked on Radio 5 Live: "Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little 'You're never going to be a looker? You'll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight'."

No matter that he later tried to backtrack by saying, "We poked fun, in a nice way, about how she looks ... but Marion Bartoli is an incredible role model." (Notice there was no outright apology).

His comments betrayed an attitude that is always there, in the background, usually unspoken. A woman can rise to the top of her profession in politics, business, entertainment, or sport. She can defeat the greatest tennis players in the world, overcome injury and setback, to win Wimbledon. But ultimately, she will be judged on her looks.

If she can't meet the standards of "a Sharapova" - slim, long-legged, blonde - she's not good enough.

I wouldn't even say it's a dinosaur opinion, because there were plenty of (mainly male) users on Twitter younger than 55-year-old Inverdale saying much worse things - one professional footballer tweeted that he wanted to "smash the wee fat cow", another said she was "ugly", and there were dozens of sexual slurs.

German finalist Lisicki didn't escape the sexism. The same pro footballer tweeted that he wanted her to take her pants off. This might be the run of the mill for teenage boys, only now, through Twitter, is it broadcast to the world.

Inverdale is not a juvenile anonymous tweeter, though. He is a highly-paid leading "talent", to use the BBC phrase. He may have thought this was what listeners to 5 Live - also known as "Radio Bloke" - wanted to hear. But I can tell him that we - female and male listeners - don't want to hear it.

"Radio Bloke" should be wary of turning into "Radio Bigot". It's not long since its item on "how to turn Clare Balding straight". The BBC apologised for that, and it apologised last on Saturday for Inverdale's "insensitive" comments.

Bartoli herself responded brilliantly, saying: "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."

I think the BBC still have to make amends, to send a powerful message to us listeners. Inverdale should not broadcast today on the Wimbledon men's final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. For the thousands of little girls out there who dream of winning Wimbledon, they should give the job to Balding instead.