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Sunday 20 April 2014

BBC apologises for 'never going to be a looker' remark about Marion Bartoli

France's Marion Bartoli with the trophy after beating Germany's Sabine Lisicki during day twelve of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 6, 2013. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No video emulation. No use with any unofficial third party logos.
France's Marion Bartoli with the trophy

THE BBC was forced to apologise today after one of its senior presenters suggested the women's Wimbledon champion was "never going to be a looker".

John Inverdale made the disparaging remark on the broadcaster's Radio 5 live programme shortly after French player Marion Bartoli defeated Germany's Sabine Lisicki on Centre Court.

 

Bartoli, 28, sank to her knees after she clinched the title and then made a beeline for the player's box where she embraced her father and former coach, Walter.

 

Inverdale reportedly told listeners: "Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little, 'you're never going to be a looker, you'll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?"

 

The comments sparked outrage on Twitter where one user branded the presenter a "sexist dinosaur" and another called for Inverdale to be stripped of his job.

 

Richard Kent said: "John Inverdale needs to go. bbc5live Are you going to allow him to carry on? Comments re Bartoli are appalling."

 

Another Twitter user said: "Ooops John Inverdale maybe falling on his sword me thinks, sexist dinosaur!"

 

The BBC later apologised for the comments.

 

"We accept that this remark was insensitive and for that we apologise," a spokesman said.

 

Inverdale was today presenting from the women's final at Wimbledon.

 

Earlier Inverdale told his listeners that he poked fun at the player's looks "in a nice way".

 

He added: "She is an incredible role model for people who aren't born with all the attributes of natural athletes".

 

But Bartoli tonight said she would not let the comments detract from her grand slam success.

 

She said: "It doesn't matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I'm sorry.

 

"But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.

 

"And to share this moment with my dad was absolutely amazing and I am so proud of it.

 

"I am sure I will be able to watch the DVD of the match over and over again and look at the picture of me when I am holding it (the trophy) in my arms.

 

"That is the most important thing to me and not what I can do outside of the court."

 

Earlier this week BBC reporter Garry Richardson sparked controversy when he suggested that Murray's coach Ivan Lendl might give him Sir Alex Ferguson's famous "hairdryer treatment" following his quarter-final clash against Fernando Verdasco

 

Immediately after the match he said to Murray: "Sir Alex Ferguson was in the Royal Box today watching you.

 

"He's been known to go into the dressing room after matches and give his players a bit of hairdryer treatment.

 

"Will Lendl say some things to you Andy to sort of gee you up or do you not need that? Do you know it all yourself?"

 

Richardson drew heavy criticism on Twitter but Murray later defended the presenter.

 

"Don't be too hard on garry richardson he had a bad day and he apologised afterwards," he said.

Press Association

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