Friday, June 24, 2011


At every tennis Major (save the still chaste Wimbledon), at some point some female player wears an outfit so skimpy it gets commentators asking: "Is this outfit too skimpy?"

But are today's skimpy outfits really any more revealing than the tighty-whitey short-shorts the men used to wear? If Connors's and McEnroe's shorts had been any more revealing they would have qualified as x-rays.

I'm sure those questioning today's outfits would argue that the revealing attire of the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova are made to pique the "prurient interest," whereas Connors and McEnroe were just wearing utilitarian garb (as though men can't play up sex appeal). From there the complaints would fall along familiar battle lines; conservatives griping about the women no longer being ladies and progressives griping about the women being objectifed.

For the conversatives who say these outfits are a sign of modern decay, remember that in ancient Greece, the Olympians competed naked.

For the progressives; sex appeal is the only edge female athletes have on men. Sports are about competition, and sex is the only way women can compete with male athletes for attention. Forget about retiring jerseys. Start retiring sports bras.

What the controversy comes down to is that these scantilly clad players are women, and women showing skin always brings out the Keystone Skin Cops. The men could string their rackets with their small intestines and no one would blink.

At least the women wearing the least clothing are among the most dominant. If the critics had their way, these heroines would dress more demurely and risk being overshadowed by the Anna Kournikovas of the world. Progressives especially should champion the minimal clothing, because the outfits of the Williams and Sharapova increase their star power; meaning they will be seen by more little girls who will then be inspired to pick up tennis rackets themselves. You want fewer girls playing with Barbie? Let Serena, Venus, and Maria compete tennis-wise and looks-wise and living Barbies who can't hit with the big girls (Kournikova) won't steal the entire spotlight (when Kournikova played, they may as well have hung the net between two stripper poles).

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