It may only be the second round, but the Australian Open has already been marred by another sexism row after a male TV presenter asked women’s world No 7 Eugenie Bouchard to “give us a twirl” following victory on court.
Bouchard had just beaten the Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens in a commanding performance 6-0, 6-3 – but rather than address that topic, Channel 7 interviewer Ian Cohen made the bizarre request and asked whether Bouchard could “tell us about [her] outfit”.
“A twirl?” the 20-year-old Canadian responded with disbelief, to which Cohen explained: “A twirl – like a pirouette.”
Bouchard obliged before awkwardly burying her head in her hands – and later described the request as “very unexpected”.
After breaking into the top 10 for the first time last year, Bouchard is regarded as one of the future stars of the sport. And after describing how she beat Bertens by “trying to get into an aggressive position as much as possible” in the post-match press conference, she was asked about being made to twirl on court. “I don’t know, an old guy asking you to twirl. It was funny,” she said.
Serena Williams was also asked to twirl by Cohen following her first-round win on Tuesday, and though she obliged she admitted on Thursday that she “didn't really want to”.
“I wouldn't ask Rafa or Roger to twirl,” Williams said when the Bouchard incident was brought up on Thursday.
“I didn't really want to twirl because I was just like, you know, I don't need all the extra attention,” she added.
But the world No 1, who will face Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the third round, said she preferred not to comment on whether the twirl request was sexist.
“Life is far too short to focus on that,” she said. “Whether I twirl or not, it's not the end of the world.”
Bouchard was also at the centre of a sexism row at last year's Australian Open after she became the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam in semi-final in 30 years.
Interviewed on court, a female reporter said: “You're getting a lot of fans here, a lot of them male. They want to know: if you could date anyone in the world of sport, of movies - I'm sorry they asked me to say this - who would you date?”
Head in hands again and blushing, the then-19-year-old Bouchard responded: “Justin Bieber.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies