The BBC has been forced to apologise after one of its senior presenters suggested the women's Wimbledon champion was "never going to be a looker".
John Inverdale made the disparaging remark on the broadcaster's Radio 5 live programme shortly after French player Marion Bartoli defeated Germany's Sabine Lisicki on Centre Court.
Bartoli, 28, sank to her knees after she clinched the title and then made a beeline for the player's box where she embraced her father and former coach, Walter.
Bartoli dominated the women's final
But Inverdale sparked a backlash when he told listeners: "Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little, 'you're never going to be a looker, you'll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?"
I'm not very politically correct (!) but really John?! BBC sorry for John Inverdale's 'Bartoli not a looker’ comment http://t.co/U0DkOGtMWO
— Neil Wallis (@neilwallis1) July 6, 2013
The comments sparked outrage on Twitter where one user branded the presenter a "sexist dinosaur" and another called for Inverdale to be stripped of his job.
There were called for John Inverdale to be sacked
Richard Kent said: "John Inverdale needs to go. @bbc5live Are you going to allow him to carry on? Comments re Bartoli are appalling."
Another Twitter user said: "Ooops John Inverdale maybe falling on his sword me thinks, sexist dinosaur!"
Do you think John Inverdale's mother told him when he was little, "You know, you'll always be an idiot so, um, yeah. That's it."
— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) July 6, 2013
The BBC later apologised for the comments.
"We accept that this remark was insensitive and for that we apologise," a spokesman said.
John Inverdale is, of course, earth-shatteringly beautiful. pic.twitter.com/4FDiiRrPGF
— fleetstreetfox (@fleetstreetfox) July 6, 2013
Inverdale had been presenting from the women's final at Wimbledon.
Earlier Inverdale told his listeners that he poked fun at the player's looks "in a nice way".
Wow @bbc5live Wimbledon coverage from bad to worse "we poke fun in a nice way at how she looks but...." NO BUTS
— EverydaySexism (@EverydaySexism) July 6, 2013
He added: "She is an incredible role model for people who aren't born with all the attributes of natural athletes".