So a lot has been said about John Inverdale’s comments on Marion Bartoli after winning Wimbledon at the weekend. Inverdale’s comment was as follows:
“I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, “listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a (Maria) Sharapova, you’re never going to be 5ft 11in, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that.”
While people should be rightly upset that Inverdale is making disparaging comments about Bartoli’s appearance, the person who has really been maligned in this comment is Maria Sharapova. The insinuation is that Sharapova’s success has not come through the same level of hard work that Bartoli has had to put in. It takes no account that Sharapova left her homeland with her father at the age of 8 to move to America to train professionally, or the years of solid graft that led her to winning all four of the major Grand Slam events, or rise to World Number 1 or to 3rd on the all-time prize money list.
Sure, her looks and long legs may well have helped her make more from sponsorship deals, but just like Bartoli, the Williams sisters, Federer, Murray, Djokovic or Nadal, I sincerely doubt this was her goal growing up. Winning was, regardless of the immense sacrifices needed to do so.
And, by contrast, look at the career of Anna Kournikova, blessed with the same looks but not the same drive, focus or ability as Sharapova, and you see the difference. However good a sports star looks, it’s their passion, determination and ability which make them champions, and nothing else.