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‘Can you give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?’ – it was a lighthearted court-side request made of tennis player Roger Federer by a TV presenter at this year’s Australian Open.

Just kidding; male athletes aren’t obliged to twirl. The request was made of world number seven Eugenie Bouchard, sparking dismay among many viewers of the Open as well as commenters on social media. Billie-Jean King, who fought against no small amount of sexism herself as a 1970s tennis champion, once said that sports are a microcosm of society. If that’s the case, does Bouchard’s experience show that things haven’t progressed as far as we might have hoped since King’s day? Or does the vocal public reaction reveal that such comments are increasingly rare?

In the next conversation in our F Word series, we’re looking at feminism and sport. Our panellists – including world champion surfer Layne Beachley, and Olympic gold medallist swimmer Leisel Jones, whose physique was targeted by media just two days before the start of London 2012 – will discuss how media representation of women’s sport affects participation and attitudes at community level, and whether or not the importance of competitive sport as a feminist battleground can be overstated. Is there a case for ending gender segregation in sport altogether?


Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of the acclaimed memoir The Hate Race, the award-winning short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the poetry collections Carrying The World and How Decent Folk Behave, and many other books for adults and children. Her forthcoming poetry collection is It’s The S... Read more

Leisel Jones

Born in Katherine, NT, Leisel Jones burst onto the swimming scene at 14, winning silver at the Sydney Olympic Games. Leisel and her mum were left bankrupt after her father left, and as a teenager Leisel was the main breadwinner for the household. Along with Ian Thorpe, she holds the record for ... Read more

Layne Beachley

Layne Beachley is widely regarded as the most successful female surfer in history. The only surfer, male or female, to claim six consecutive world titles (1998-2003), Layne then went onto win a seventh world title in 2006 before retiring from the ASP World Tour in 2008.  Layne currently serves ... Read more

Angela Pippos

Angela is an award-winning journalist, presenter, documentary-maker, author and MC. Her most recent documentary, The Record, follows Australia’s dramatic Women’s T20 World Cup campaign and the audacious bid to fill the MCG for the final on International Women’s Day 2020. The two-part documenta... Read more


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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.