Stich: Wimbledon Gals Mainly There ‘To Sell Sex’

If there’s one thing the Germans are noted for, it’s their tolerance and open mindedness when it comes to sensitive social issues. So here’s Michael Stich, famed tennis athlete and broadcaster, fanning the flames of equality at the start of Wimbledon with an observation on women’s tennis.

Michael Stich, Maria Kirilenko

(Right: Maria Kirilenko, not playing tennis)

Stich, the 1991 men’s singles champion, is calling the event for BBC Radio 5 Live. On Sunday, he let it be known in an interview with THE MAIL that the women’s half of the tournament is pretty much only there to “sell sex.” Yeah, that didn’t go over all that well.


The 40-year-old German said the noise detracted from the players’ ‘sex appeal’. He said: ‘Just play it back to the women. It sounds disgusting, ugly, unsexy!’

When challenged that it was the women’s role to play the best tennis they could, rather than look sexy, Stich stuck to his guns. ‘That’s what they sell,’ he told The Mail on Sunday.

‘They want to look good, they pay attention to their looks and everything.’

The quotes aren’t going over well, as one might imagine.

Last night Harriet Foxwell, of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, blasted Stich’s remarks. ‘Unfortunately, commentary about female tennis players isn’t always about their skill on court,’ she said.

Our wish is that rather than talking about what they are wearing or the noises they make, they are judged on their professional performance.’

Stich is taking his hits for the remarks, while Wimbledon, meanwhile, benefits from the added publicity. And that all of this has been generated by the silly grunting controversy provides added points for absurdity. Ah, whatever … Maria Sharapova, Elena Dementieva and Daniela Hantuchova all won today, so I’m happy. Er, because they play quality tennis, and for no other reason.