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BBC, Radio Announcer Apologize To Wimbledon Champ Bartoli

Posted: July 7, 2013

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Remarks about the 2013 Wimbledon champion's appearance angered many listeners. France's Marion Bartoli beat Germany's Sabine Lisicki 6-1 6-4 Saturday, winning her first major tournament.

France's Marion Bartoli celebrates her Wimbledon women's singles championship. The BBC has apologized to Bartoli for remarks an announcer made about her appearance.

France's Marion Bartoli celebrates her Wimbledon women's singles championship. The BBC has apologized to Bartoli for remarks an announcer made about her appearance. Dominic Lipinski

The BBC and one of its radio tennis commentators are apologizing to Marion Bartoli, after announcer John Inverdale's remarks about the 2013 Wimbledon champion's appearance angered many listeners.

Bartoli, 28, reached a milestone in her life Saturday, by winning the women's singles final at Wimbledon. And that's the perspective she kept after learning of Inverdale's unflattering remarks, in which he suggested that her father might have told Bartoli that she needed to work hard to overcome the fact that she was "never going to be a looker."

Here's Bartoli's reaction, as Britain's The Independent reports:

"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," she said.
"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."

The French Bartoli beat Germany's Sabine Lisicki 6-1 6-4 Saturday, winning her first major tournament. Inverdale made his remarks about her on the BBC's Radio 5 Live, in the time leading up to the women's final. Anger over Inverdale's words spread quickly, causing a BBC spokesperson to say, "We accept that this remark was insensitive and for that we apologise."

Inverdale says he has sent a personal letter of apology to Bartoli; he also used some time before Sunday's men's final to apologize to his audience.

"Before we start, I probably ought to just briefly return to yesterday and a clumsy phrase that I used about Marion Bartoli which has understandably caused something of a furor," he said.

"The point I was trying to make, in a rather ham-fisted kind of way, was that in a world where the public perception of tennis players is that they're all six-feet-tall Amazonian athletes, Marion - who is the Wimbledon champion - bucks that trend."

Inverdale called Bartoli "a fantastic example to all young people that it's attitude and will and determination together, obviously, with talent that, in the end, does get you to the top."

The announcer seemed to be attempting to improve upon his remarks made earlier in the day, when he said, "She is an incredible role model for people who aren't born with all the attributes of natural athletes."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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