Tactless: has Michael Stich gone crazy from his midlife crisis?

I don’t know what to say. 


Michael Stich claims Wimbledon ladies are ‘just there to sell sex’

As a former Wimbledon champion, Michael Stich might be expected to have an expert appreciation for the skill and dedication required to play tennis at its highest level.

But on the eve of this year’s tournament, the BBC Radio 5 Live commentator has caused outrage among the sport’s female stars by claiming their role is as much about ‘selling sex’ on court as it is about their sporting prowess.

Stich, the 1991 men’s singles champion, made his politically incorrect comments last night as he waded into the argument over the loud grunting of many of the game’s top women.

The 40-year-old German said the noise detracted from the players’ ‘sex appeal’. He said: ‘Just play it back to the women. It sounds disgusting, ugly, unsexy!’

When challenged that it was the women’s role to play the best tennis they could, rather than look sexy, Stich stuck to his guns. ‘That’s what they sell,’ he told The Mail on Sunday.

‘They want to look good, they pay attention to their looks and everything.’

Last night Harriet Foxwell, of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, blasted Stich’s remarks. ‘Unfortunately, commentary about female tennis players isn’t always about their skill on court,’ she said.

‘Our wish is that rather than talking about what they are wearing or the noises they make, they are judged on their professional performance.’

However, not everyone took offence. Two-time Wimbledon singles winner Serena Williams admitted: ‘Sex sells! It’s great for Angelina Jolie and it’s true across the board.’ 

Stich, who beat Boris Becker to the 1991 title, also joked that the only way of stopping the grunting from women players such as Portuguese teenager Michelle Larcher De Brito was to ‘shoot them’.

He added: ‘How are you going to prevent it? How are you going to measure it?’

Source: Daily Mail


Stich’s remarks were belittling, disrespectful, and tactless.

Sure, to some extent, sex sells. Serena wasn’t completely wrong. How else would you explain the fortunes of Maria Kirilenko and Daniela Hantuchova? Compared to someone like Svetlana Kuznetsova, who doesn’t have a sponsor. Yet how is that different to men’s sport? Sex appeal goes to the core of a player’s marketability just the same. Marat Safin makes more money than Nikolay Davydenko, does he not? The issue here is that Stich problematized sex appeal specifically in relation to women’s sport. Sex sells in women’s tennis. It sells everywhere. This is an entirely different proposition to saying that female tennis players are there to sell sex.  

The fact that Maria Kirilenko was dumped by Stella McCartney for Adidas after her slump should tell you a thing or two about where the focus truly lies in the women’s sport. Stich’s remarks demeans the achievements of Maria Sharapova and the Williams sisters, all beautiful, independent women backing up their fortunes with success in the sporting world. 

I would’ve thought some retired male players learnt a thing or two from Gimelstob-gate last year, but apparently not. Play out your midlife crisis and sexual insecurities elsewhere. Leave women’s sport alone. 

And I’m sorry, I can take jokes, but not when the joke is about shooting WTA players for grunting.


There is only one appropriate thing left to say: fuck you!?


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2 responses to “Tactless: has Michael Stich gone crazy from his midlife crisis?”

  1. evie says :

    It was appalling. I hadn’t seen the original source until now, but some idiotic reporter actually used the first question of today’s presser with Sharapova to ask her if she felt the grunting detracted from the sex appeal of the women’s game, as Stitch described. I was horrified. Am horrified.

    Somehow, I don’t believe they’ll ask Safin whether or not his racquet-smashing detracts from his sex appeal in the game.

  2. dootsiez says :

    ^ Hi Evie, something about this whole affair – Stich’s comments and the way some of the reporters responded – just revealed a lot of disrespect towards women’s tennis. I’ve done my fair share of WTA bashing, but this goes beyond that. This has nothing to do with criticisms towards the quality of women’s tennis, this is just sexism. *sigh* Very disheartening to read.

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