EUGENIE Bouchard said she was not offended by being asked to “give a twirl” in an on-court interview, as long as male players were asked to flex their muscles.
Bouchard and Serena Williams were asked to spin around to show off their outfits earlier this week at the Australian Open – Canadian Bouchard following her second-round win over Kiki Bertens.
It prompted an angry response on social media and accusations of sexism levelled at Tennis Australia commentator Ian Cohen, who made the request.
Twelve-time grand slam singles winner Billie-Jean King wrote on Twitter: “The Australian Open interviewer asking the women to ‘twirl’ on court is out of line. This is truly sexist. If you ask the women, you have to ask the guys to twirl as well.”
Speaking after her 7-5, 6-0 win over France’s Caroline Garcia in the third round yesterday, Bouchard said: “I stay out of this stuff, but I heard a little bit. My friends are texting me saying I dance and twirl well and stuff as jokes.
“I think it was just kind of funny. You know, I’m fine with being asked to twirl if they ask the guys to flex their muscles and stuff.
“I’m not offended. I think it was an in-the-moment thing and it was funny. But it’s just funny how it’s taken a life of its own. I’m just going to try to focus on my tennis.”
The WTA did not comment on the controversy, while Maria Sharapova said: “I really have no interest in that, honestly. I’m sure you guys [the media] have covered every part of it. You know, I stay away from that.”
Meanwhile, Sharapova swiftly banished the memories of almost making an early exit from the tournament with a commanding 6-1, 6-1 win over Zarina Diyas.
Sharapova had to save two match points in the second round against qualifier Alexandra Panova, but needed just 61 minutes to thrash 31st seed Diyas and reach the last 16.
“I think I rebounded really well,” the second seed said. “I had a good hit yesterday, just kind of thought a little bit about what I wanted to try to achieve tonight no matter who I played.
“She can be a tough player to play against if you give her the time to change down the line like she likes to do, step down and hit flat, low. She has that capability and, if you give her the time, she’ll do it.”
Sharapova will face China’s Shuai Peng in the fourth round and remains on course to come up against seventh seed Bouchard in the quarter-finals.
Bouchard will face Irina-Camelia Begu next after the 24-year-old Romanian beat Germany’s Carina Witthoeft in straight sets to reach the fourth round in a grand slam for the first time.
Third seed Simona Halep will take on Yanina Wickmayer after the Belgian beat 14th seed Sara Errani, with tenth seed Ekaterina Makarova up against Germany’s Julia Goerges.
Halep, who reached the quarter-finals here last year and lost to Sharapova in the French Open final, defeated American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 7-5 and said: “I’m okay with my game. I played well today, better than the second round, so this is good.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS