August 31, 2006, 4:18 pm Too Thin, Too Big, Too Much
By Kathleen McElroy
Before Serena Williams battled back from 5-2 to win the opening set against 17th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova, maybe we all were thinking about it. And Lindsay Davenport was asked about it more than her opponent after her 6-0, 6-0 victory. No one ever focuses on men’s weight, yet this being a culture (and its media) that focuses on image, it was obvious during the warmup that the Williams-Hantuchova match is a contrast in body types. Both have faced scrutiny the way most female public figures have — they are dogged for weighing too much, or too little.
Hantuchova, 23, is “listed” as 5 feet 11 inches and 123 pounds (a BMI of 17.2; normal weight is 18ish) which is way skinny but presumably better than a few years ago, when the press noted her shrinking weight from her early years as a pro, 2000 and 2001.
Williams, 24, is “listed” as 5 feet 9 inches and 135 pounds. She is considered out of shape by most tennis commentators. But a female journalist for the Miami Herald notes that at least she has real curves — unlike so many other top female athletes.
Remember in 1992, when Richard Krajicek said that “80 percent of the women players are fat lazy pigs”?
Davenport, who is slimmer than her early days on the tour, was asked about Serena, Daniela and their weight issues: what’s the pressure like to find that perfect balance?
“It’s different for every player,” Davenport answered. “What is troubling to one player is the exact opposite for another player. You know, we’re out here obviously as athletes, but just like any other woman. It’s a society problem. Its not just, you know, in women’s tennis.
“Personally, I had trouble earlier in my career and was criticized. I’m like 18, you know.”
She was also asked if some players mistake being thin for being fit: “I think that’s very common — I think that’s not a player misconception. I think that’s a worldwide misconception. I think to me, a strong, athletic woman seems a lot healthier than weight … instead of what the scale says.”