Tennis player Amelie Mauresmo won her second Grand Slam and first untainted victory today at Wimbledon. (Her victory in the Australian this year was muted by her opponent's withdrawal.) Mauresmo became the first French woman to win Wimbledon since 1925. Even more significantly, she is only the second player -- male or female -- in tennis history to win a Slam as an openly gay person. Not that you'd know it watching the coverage on NBC. Never mind that it was an historic accomplishment. Never mind it was only the second time IN HISTORY that it had been done. Never mind that it was an extreme rarity in ANY sport, not just tennis. The player at the summit was out and it wasn't mentioned once during the entire match. Not once. We don't even know who was in Mauresmo's box, watching her compete, except for her coach. Were her parents there? Was that her sister or her girlfriend she gave a chaste hug to after winning? We don't know. Her opponent Justine Henine-Hardenne had her husband singled out several times. In fact, every player in a finals has their husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend, mother or father mentioned on camera. If they're not there, we're told where they are and why. But for Mauresmo, not a word. She was alone. She's been alone since she came out. Mocked and publicly belittled by other players, abandoned by sponsors, Mauresmo has quietly continued her quest for Grand Slam victory in the last four years. The rap on Mauresmo is that she has a fragile mental game and chokes on the big matches. She herself has said how difficult it is to compete in France where the desire for her to win is so tremendous. At 27 years old, she was very much in danger of never winning a Slam, which would have made her coming out slightly less notable. This year, she's won two Slams, cementing her name in history as a top player. "I don't want anyone to talk about my nerves anymore," she joked after the match. How about mentioning the fact that she was strong enough to come out, take the abuse quietly and with dignity and go about improving her game to the point where she could become a champion? In discussing the pressure on her, how come the pressure of being openly gay is never mentioned -- both the positive pressure of another community (after the French) rooting for you and desperate for you to win and the negative pressure of all the bigots who found her being open distasteful and hoped she would lose just because of who she was? Have her parents supported her or abandoned her since Mauresmo came out? If that's why they stayed away (assuming they stayed away), shouldn't we know that? Whether or not Mauresmo chose to discuss it, as journalists covering the event it should be talked about -- it certainly plays into her mental game. Is she a vocal champion of gay rights? Does she mention her partner (if any)? No. Perhaps that will come after her career is over. Now her main focus is on tennis. And she took the one crucial step that matters. She came out. After that, it becomes a matter of public record, thanks to Mauresmo's brave stance. If she were the first black woman or the first Algerian, say, to win a Grand Slam, it would be mentioned ad nauseum. But because she's gay, it's considered embarrassing or "private." Who she's dating may be private and if Mauresmo doesn't want to talk about her private life, that's her business. But the simple fact that she's gay? That's a simple fact. Not mentioning it is bad journalism. Period. And NBC, ESPN, the New York Times, the Associated Press and everyone who covers this victory but fails to mention the historic fact of her accomplishment in the light of being out is complicit in trying to keep gay people invisible and cheapens what Mauresmo has done.
P.S. The Bryan Brothers won the Men's Doubles -- a triumph capping their seventh straight Grand Slam finals appearance and a win that gives them victories in all four Slams. They're great, giving a well-needed boost to doubles tennis. Of course, the TV announcers repeatedly talked about their being brothers and the other siblings who have triumphed at an elite level in doubles and the various records the Bryan Brothers have matched and broken with their feat. It was the most natural thing in the world to talk about, of course.