An unusual request greeted 20-year-old Canadian tennis phenom Eugenie Bouchard after she breezed her way into the third round of the Australian Open with an easy 6–0, 6–3 win over Kiki Bertens.
When Bouchard met the on-court interviewer — a man — to talk about the match, which lasted a mere 54 minutes, he asked her to “give us a twirl.”
‘’A twirl?’’ Bouchard responded.
‘’A twirl, like a pirouette, here you go,” the interviewer answered.
Bouchard obliged, “somewhat uncomfortably” showing off her bright pink and yellow outfit, as the Associated Press reported and as the video of the incident makes clear:
‘’It was very unexpected,’’ Bouchard said at her post-match press conference, according to the AP, which noted that the same on-court interviewer asked top-ranked Serena Williams to twirl after a first round match Tuesday. ‘’I don’t know, an old guy asking you to twirl. It was funny.”
This isn’t the first time on-court interviewers have made odd requests of Bouchard. At last year’s Australian Open, she was asked who she’d want to date if she could date anyone on earth. That question came after Bouchard won a quarterfinal match to become the first Canadian woman to ever reach the Aussie Open semifinals and the first to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 1984 — all as a 19-year-old. She later finished as the runner-up at Wimbledon, and climbed to the seventh spot in the world rankings. She’s a contender to make a deep run in Melbourne and has played quality tennis so far, dropping just nine games while winning her first two matches in straight sets. And yet, instead of questions about her tennis, she gets this.
Bouchard is, quite obviously, an excellent young player. Perhaps one day we will get to the point where that is enough, where she and players like her aren’t asked questions about who they’d date or if they can “give us a twirl” after wins at one of tennis’s most important tournaments; where media and tennis officials don’t make sexist comments a regular feature of talking about their sport; where, as the newscaster in the video above suggested, “we talk about an athlete’s performance on the court” instead of “what she’s wearing.” In other words, a point where women like Bouchard are treated first and foremost like the athletes they are.
Until then, it wouldn’t be wise to hold your breath waiting for an on-court interviewer to ask the same question of the similarly-colorful Rafael Nadal or any of his counterparts in the men’s draw.