Andy Murray isn’t the only Brit to win Wimbledon in last 77 years

Marion Bartoli (Stefan Wermuth / AP)
Marion Bartoli (Stefan Wermuth / AP)

"Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, ends 77-year British draught," USA Today told its readers. "Perfect timing: Murray wakes Britain from 77-year slumber," CNN blared. "What to Know About First British Wimbledon Champ in 77 Years," People.com wrote.

These headlines, of course, were celebrating Andy Murray's historic win at Wimbledon Sunday, when he defeated Novak Djokovic in three straight sets to become the first British man to win the Grand Slam tournament since Fred Perry in 1936.

But it hasn't been 77 years since there's been a British champion at Wimbledon. As some have been careful to point out, not one but four British women have won since Perry—Dorothy Round Little won the year after Perry, Angela Mortimer Barrett won in 1961, Ann Haydon-Jones won in 1969 and Virginia Wade won in 1977. That's a lot of wins for a so-called draught.

Even if the above stories were careful in the text of the articles to specify that Murray was the first men's singles champion in eight decades, the headlines sent a different, and worrisome, message. What we're left with is the notion that women's achievements in tennis are not equally valued to men's.

That idea is hardly unfounded. While tennis is certainly more equal than other sports when it comes to compensating men and women, it's only recently that Wimbledon began paying men and women the same; it defended the practice before then by saying women play fewer sets than men. A year ago, French player Gilles Simon didn't shy away from controversially saying he doesn't think salary equality is "something that works in sport." And one need look no further than the sexist commentary about Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli (the BBC's John Inverdale wasn't the first to comment on her looks) to see another area where women's achievements are overshadowed by something else.

As one observer wrote about all the attention given to Murray, "those women who have worked tirelessly to reach the top of their game in an industry that treats them as second class citizens is something to be lauded, not casually erased from public consciousness." The headlines celebrating Murray's achievements may have been unintentional. But we need to intentionally do more to celebrate the achievements women have made in sports, too.

Jena McGregor is a columnist for On Leadership.

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The double bind for Jill Abramson and other women at the top

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Jena McGregor writes a daily column analyzing leadership in the news for the Washington Post’s On Leadership section.
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Jena McGregor | July 8, 2013