The spotlight is firmly, and rightly, on inappropriate sexual behaviour like never before.
So it’s baffling to think what was going through the minds of those in charge of the ATP when they served up the level of shite they did at the Next Gen draw.
Incase you were fortunate enough to miss it…the draw for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals involved players picking between two models and walked down a runway arm in arm with them. At this point, the models decided the groupings by revealing letters hidden under their clothing.
Apparently, the draw ceremony for the Next Gen Finals was supposed to highlight Milan’s status in the fashion industry.
Instead it led to a huge social media backlash from horrified observers and an apology from the organisations chairman.
“In no way was this meant to be offensive to anyone,” ATP executive chairman and president Chris Kermode said at a prescheduled news conference for the tournament. “The intention was to mix the heritage of Milan, of fashion. Unfortunately, the execution was unacceptable. We apologise and I can assure it won’t happen again.”
It’s hard to know exactly who to feel most sorry for. The increasingly uncomfortable looking young players, the poor models having to behave in a manor dreamt up by some marketing person’s wet dream, or the sport of tennis in general that’s been made to look horrendously out of step.
Whatever the rationale and apology, tennis cannot afford to be making such a racket. In a sport that’s been accused of having a sexist attitude in the past, this is an unforced error it needs to turn to its advantage and break the attitudes of some of those in charge.