Camila Giorgi battled against Ash Barty on Thursday during the Australian Open. (Pic: Saeed Khan)
Camila Giorgi battled against Ash Barty on Thursday during the Australian Open. (Pic: Saeed Khan)

Even tennis has now become about #metoo

BEING a tennis fan has never been so fraught with political correctness.

Under the new gold standard of having an 'eyes front' professionalism to all human interaction no deviation from commenting on anything other than ability is now allowed.

It wasn't so long ago tennis players, like many sportspeople were grouped in pools of (a) talent and (b) sex appeal, with the few genetically blessed crossovers enjoying unparalleled media scrutiny. The likes of Anna Kournikova and Chris Evert, or on the male side of the ledger Pat Cash or Rafa Nadal.

Today, in the wake of the sleaze allegations that have swept the world, any deviation from strict professional courtesy is in danger of being seen as some monstrous perversion.

In tennis it's regarded as the sexist undermining of the player in question and their opponent, both of whom are allegedly engaged in serious stuff.

Last night at the Australian Open Ash Barty defeated her game Italian opponent Camila Giorgi. Barty's achievement was rightly lauded by a public hungry for another champion.

But while Giorgi, ranking a respectable 71 in the world, showed plenty of prowess with the racket, it was her sublime beauty that had most male (and a few female) viewers glued to the set. Of course, no one will say this.

Italy’s Camila Giorgi lost her Australian Open match against Ash Barty on Day 4 of the Australian Open. (Pic: Saeed Khan)
Italy’s Camila Giorgi lost her Australian Open match against Ash Barty on Day 4 of the Australian Open. (Pic: Saeed Khan)

I mean she's a great tennis player, I'm happy to say, but in the po-faced times we live in woe betide anyone for pointing out a person's attributes if they aren't skill-based.

It's all right if you're talking about a model, because it's a model's job to be beautiful.

But no one else.

Contrary to popular belief, most men, though they may not annunciate it, are feminists, even here in Australia.

They appreciate and value women and recognise them as equals. Furthermore they're happy to see them lead, to succeed and even to help them get there.

And again there is no insidious underlying sexual motive in that.

There's nothing unhealthy or malicious or deliberately undermining about the occasional recognition of the attractiveness of the opposite sex by both men and women alike. Compliments - sometimes between colleagues - are usually designed to do nothing more than boost a person's self-esteem.

But in a post-Weinstein world that fails to differentiate between serious sexual abuse, cack-handed passes and sometimes benign compliments, a puritanical Zeitgeist is in danger of taking hold.

Ash Barty and Camila Giorgi played out three sets on Thursday evening during Day 4 at the Australian Open. (Pic: Michael Klein)
Ash Barty and Camila Giorgi played out three sets on Thursday evening during Day 4 at the Australian Open. (Pic: Michael Klein)

If you express such views, like Matt Damon trying to beg the difference between serious sexual assault and an unwanted, creepy approach, you're cowed into humiliating reversal. No shades of grey exist in this world.

There are gains to be had from the #metoo movement - real gains against manipulative, abusive behaviour - but also a danger of suppressing genuine and healthy discourse between men and women.

I say genuine because a lot of men are now afraid to express any view on women unless it is cadged in worthy terms about achievement. And so men say what they think women want to hear not necessarily what they do think.

The history of blokes is littered with inept attempts to communicate with women. Almost universally men have shown poor ability to express themselves. For most, that ancient word, 'courting' has been a process of trial and error.

But there is a happy medium that still involves both mutual respect and understanding, and a true appreciation of each other.

Martin Newman is a News Corp journalist.



FOR SALE: Home has ocean views and ten cartons of beer

FOR SALE: Home has ocean views and ten cartons of beer

Ever thought about off-grid living at Captain Creek?

Boyne Valley Rail Trail could attract 30,000 tourists a year

Boyne Valley Rail Trail could attract 30,000 tourists a year

Local communities waiting for work to start

At Bedrock restorations Barney can 'yabba dabba' do it

At Bedrock restorations Barney can 'yabba dabba' do it

Turning rusted wrecks into collectables

Local Partners