Andy Murray is a delightful tennis star whose most memorable win was at Wimbledon in 2013, when he became the first British man to win the annual tournament since 1936. He is also the reigning Wimbledon champ, having done it again last year by defeating Canada’s Milos Raonic.
Needless to say, he was disappointed this morning while speaking to the media after having lost in the quarterfinals to Sam Querrey, the first American to make it to any Grand Slam semifinal since Andy Roddick did it in 2009. However the loss clearly didn’t dull his British wit because he was all over a reporter who misspoke in this question regarding Querrey’s advancement to the semifinals:
Q: "Andy, Sam is the first American player to reach the semi-final of a Slam since 2009…"
Murray: "Male player."
— Svenja Mastroberardi (@svenja_mastro) July 12, 2017
Good to see Andy Murray correcting a journalist on this in his post-match press conference. pic.twitter.com/NAbuRkC4pI
— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) July 12, 2017
While it sucks that players like Murray and Roddick are all-too-often put in situations where they have to remind people of the greatness of their female counterparts, it’s also encouraging that they do it so instinctively.
Serena and Venus Williams have single-handedly kept the United States relevant internationally in the sport of tennis for the last decade. Elite American tennis has recently been defined and represented at the highest level of competition by the women of the sport, much in the same way that American soccer and gymnastics have been dominated by female athletes.
So while it’s entirely possible that the reporter’s question was poorly phrased rather than intentionally exclusive, it’s still an egregious error. There’s no forgetting or ignoring that Serena and Venus have represented America in semifinals and finals consistently. They just played each other in the finals of the Australian Open – which Serena won while anywhere from 7-9 weeks pregnant – and Venus literally just advanced to the semifinals of Wimbledon YESTERDAY.
And while it’s been a long time since a male American player has even made it to a Grand Slam semifinal, it’s been even longer since an American man has been a champion of any of the four tournaments. Roddick also owns that distinction with his 2003 U.S. Open title almost fourteen years ago.
We should also note that this isn’t the first time that Murray has taken it upon himself to correct complete falsehoods uttered within the framework of a question from the media. During the 2016 Summer Olympics, BBC announcer John Inverdale congratulated Murray on his gold medal win by saying, “You’re the first person to win two gold medals.”
“Well, to defend the singles title … I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each but hadn’t defended a singles title before.”
He was exactly right. Both Serena and Venus have four Olympic gold medals. You can try to explain it away as semantics but that’s bullshit. These statements by reporters are often interpreted as fact by those who are to uninformed or ignorant to fact check them, and they encourage and perpetuate at culture of sexism – whether intentionally or not.