Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sex, Truth, and Tennis

Greetings tennis maniacs,

After becoming the first Italian to ever be ranked in the top ten, Flavia Pennetta has been busy modeling racy clothes in Milan, and being interviewed by a sex-crazed Italian television personality for a television show called "Le Iene" (translate - Hyenas). 

There's been quite a buzz in the blogosphere about this, and deservedly so.  I normally try to avoid the seedier side of tennis journalism, I really do, but this story was just too alluring to pass up. Her decision to do the show and to cooperate with the annoying interviewer shows how good-natured and playful Pennetta is - but while watching the youtube recap of this raunchy show, one can't help but feel bad for her.  That she had to endure this kind of unabashed sophomoric humor, and that she willingly took the bait and gave 'em what the wanted to hear, is both very entertaining in an "I can't stop watching that car crash" sort of way, and a travesty.    

Note to Pennetta:  Fire your publicist.  I know things are different socially in Italy, but an athlete of your reach needs to realize that being on the equivalent to "Howard Stern" in Italy, a show that features porn stars and other miscreants, is not a great idea for you. A publicist needs to know this as well.  

Isn't this the kind of sexist inanity that our evolving society is seeking to abolish?  It's mind-boggling.  So is this how the Italian media treats the first female tennis player to ever crack the top-10 in Italy?  Wow, talk about juvenile.  I just don't get it.  This is a serious woman here. A world-class athlete. And she's on a talk show discussing how many tennis players she's boinked?  What?  

But lost in her racy comments about Carlos Moya and Marat Safin (by the way, don't make much of any of this, the interview featured Pennetta basically firing answers to yes or no questions, and, good egg that she is, Flavia was doing her best to make the interview fun.) was the fact that Pennetta isn't convinced that doping doesn't exist in tennis.  

Hmmm....That one really opened my ears.  After reading so much about the strict enforcement of the drug policy by the ITF and WADA, I'm curious to know why Pennetta isn't convinced that the sport is totally clean. Is it just a hunch that was formed when looking across the court at a muscle bound Serena Williams, or is there some legitimacy to her sentiment?  

If only her interviewer could have gotten his mind out of the gutter for a moment he might have elicited some candid remarks from Pennetta on the matter.  Unfortunately, he did not.  
We now know that Flavia has made love on an airplane, but we do not know what she meant when she she said she thinks there is doping in tennis.  

Thankfully, Pennetta may not have to answer more questions about her sex life in the upcoming weeks, but she can probably expect a few more about the doping issue.  

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