WMC News & Features

Cry Foul at Wimbledon

Last week, the London Telegraph's front page proclaimed: "After 77 years, the wait is over!” TV anchors announced that Sunday was a proud day for tennis-loving Brits, and much of the international press reported it was the first time in 77 years that a British tennis player had won Wimbledon, since Fred Perry in 1936 .

But Perry was the last male Brit  to win. In fact, there have been four British women winners since 1936.

Dorothy Round Lttle won her second Wimbledon title at age 29 with “dazzling cross-court backhands” against polish player Jadwiga Jędrzejowska in 1937.

Angela Mortimer Barrett beat another Englishwoman , Christine Truman Janes, to become Wimbledon’s women’s singles champion in 1961. Barrett was 29, too—and  also partially deaf.

Ann Haydon-Jones  won her first Wimbledon singles championship in 1969. Haydon-Jones played during the reign of the great Billie Jean King, and whenever the two met, Billie Jean won. But Haydon-Jones finally beat her at Wimbledon in 1969, becoming the first left-handed female singles player to win the championship.

Last, in 1977, Virginia Wade, after a decade of wins—the 1968 US Open, the 1972 Australian Open—would become Wimbledon’s last British singles winner for the next 36 years.

When feminists speak of the historical erasure of female achievement, somebody always whines that we’re exaggerating or being paranoid. That’s one reason why the slogan of the Women’s Media Center is “to make women visible and powerful in the media.“

Apparently we have a lot more work  to do just on the visible part, because otherwise our lives will be reported written down in lemon juice, showing up only under certain special light.

Gentlemen of the press, you’ve shown contempt for women by this erasure of champions, and by demonstrating absolute indifference to historical fact, you’ve also harmed the reputation of a great tournament, and  stained the journalistic ethics of sports reporting.

What’s more, it was a totally unforced error.

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Robin Morgan
Co-founder. Women's Media Center, Host & Producer of WMC Live with Robin Morgan, Writer, Activist
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