Queen Elizabeth will be at Centre Court Wimbledon today for the first time in 33 years to, apparently, watch three matches. The featured players the All England Club is rolling out for the monarch’s amusement are Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki.
(AOL’s Greg Couch is incensed by the snub)
Roger Federer and Venus Williams are off today, but attractive blonde Wozniacki got the nod over Serena Williams for the coveted Centre Court spot. Serena, who did end up meeting the queen with her sister Venus today, will play her match on Court 2.
So who made the call to snub Serena, who is the defending tournament champion and current World #1? And is there an evidence to suggest that the decision was racially motivated?
A Wimbledon spokesman flat out admitted to the LONDON DAILY MAIL during the 2009 tournament that looks do play a role in who is privileged Centre Court.
The All England Club’s Johnny Perkins:
“(Court selection) is a great big mixture of where the players are in the draw, who they’re playing, what their ranking is. It’s not a coincidence that those (on Centre Court) are attractive.”
The 2009 Daily Mail piece also reported that Serena getting bumped off Centre Court for a low-seeded dainty is a fairly common occurence. And she’s not the only one.
In the men’s tournament, five-times winner Roger Federer and British hope Andy Murray invariably play on Centre.
But on Friday, after Federer left the court, the next match was Victoria Azarenka of Belarus against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.
While both 19-year-olds have top form in the glamour department, Miss Cirstea was seeded 28 while Miss Azarenka, who won, is ranked and seeded eighth.
That same day, second seed Serena Williams was relegated to the new No 2 Court for her win over Italian Roberta Vinci.
The fact that many seats remained empty for the Cirstea-Azarenka clash implies that the knowledgeable SW19 crowd were underwhelmed by the tennis on offer.
Which would suggest that attractive players are placed on Centre to titillate the BBC television audience, some of whom care more for a pretty face than a powerful forehand.
A BBC source said: ‘It’s the Wimbledon play committee, not us who decides on the order of play.
‘But obviously it’s advantageous to us if there are good-looking women players on Centre Court.
No one has heard of many of the women now, so if they are pretty it definitely gives them an edge. ‘Our preference would always be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing figures.’
The BBC source almost certainly is basing that opinion on ratings research. The Brit broadcaster knows what, apparently, most casual fans want to see and urges Wimbledon accordingly.
So in the early rounds we now know that Wimbledon is basing its court assignments purely on box office. If you want to imply that racism is part of why Serena was bumped today, then go right ahead.
Though I’m as cynical as any of you out there, if Serena was white, I think the same rules would apply. The Brits can get away with pandering to only what the majority of casual TV viewers want to see in the early rounds.
Later, thankfully, they have no choice.
But the situation with the Queen is different. Today is no typical early-round match. For that reason, I have a real problem with Wimbledon’s decision. It’s shameful.
Could Buckingham Palace have also been a factor in the court assignment? Not likely, but also not impossible. Though I highly doubt the Queen had anything to do with it. She’s more concerned these days about remaining upright.
Lastly, I want to recognize all of you out there who think Serena is hotter than some bone-thin waif from Eastern Kurdistan. I’m in your camp.