Boris Becker was commentating on Novak Djokovic's straight-sets victory over the Hungarian
Boris Becker is at the centre of a sexism row after describing a Wimbledon quarter-finalist’s fiancee as “very pretty” during BBC commentary.
The three-time former champion remarked “they do say they have the most beautiful women in Hungary” as Centre Court footage cut to Márton Fucsovics’s watching partner.
Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of Women in Sport, was among a host of diversity campaign groups to accuse Becker of “objectification”.
Main commentator John Inverdale, who once landed himself in hot water for criticising tennis player Marion Bartoli’s looks, had been first to point out Annette Boszormenyi.
“That’s Fuscovics’ fiancee,” he said during the afternoon coverage of Novak Djokovic’s straight-sets victory. “Her name is Annette Boszormenyi. If you’re a tennis player, always good to have a partner called Annette.”
John Inverdale was next to Becker when the former Wimbledon champion made the comments
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Becker responded: “They do say they have the most beautiful women in Hungary. I wouldn’t know that, but she’s certainly very pretty.” Inverdale then added: “I’d like to thank my Christmas cracker from 1978 for that joke.”
The BBC declined to criticise the comments when contacted by the Daily Telegraph. “Boris Becker made a light hearted comment that was not intended to cause offence,” a statement said.
However, both Women in Sport and Perception Agency, a marketing campaign group working with various sports, had agreed that the comments were unfit for afternoon coverage.
“The charity Women in Sport has worked for decades to change sporting culture including to end the objectification of women,” Ms Hilborne told the Daily Telegraph. “When two men are comfortable talking about women in this way, never mind on live TV, it shows there is still more to do. We need everyone to understand how this impacts on women and girls, how it makes them feel. Shouldn’t we be inspiring the next generation of girls to play sport rather than talking about what women look like?”
Flo Williams, a Wales international rugby player who founded the Perception Agency, added: “It’s changing room chat rather than commentary chat. Straight away it shows that commentary around women in sport can be so much around what they look like – whether they are playing or not.”
The incident marks the second consecutive day that BBC has defended its commentary team after John McEnroe drew criticism for questioning Emma Raducanu’s mentality after her last-16 exit.
“It appears that it just got a little bit too much, as is understandable, particularly [with] what we’ve been talking about this last six weeks with Naomi Osaka not even here,” McEnroe had said during BBC coverage.
As well as once criticising Bartoli’s looks on air, Inverdale also caused alarm in 2016 when likening Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios to a “character from the Jungle Book”.
Twice-married Becker became Wimbledon champion at 17 – but is also famed for his girlfriends, his celebrity lifestyle, his love child and a bankruptcy ruling. “I’ve lived a pretty intense life,” he said in a 2017 interview. “Do I go borderline, sometimes over the border? Of course. Otherwise I wouldn’t have won Wimbledon at 17. I wouldn’t have become No 1 in the world. I wouldn’t have done what I have done if that wasn’t part of my personality. And that means I take chances. I take chances because this is who I am.”