Venus Williams' Naked ESPN Cover: Why I Can't Stop Looking At That Magnificent Bum

Brogan Driscoll   |   July 10, 2014    1:20 PM ET

After lamenting at Beyoncé being pictured in her underwear for her recent Time magazine cover, I'm about to concede that I can't stop looking at Venus Williams' bum. And I applaud her for getting her kit off.

But before you attempt to tar me with the double standards brush, let me explain.

Venus' behind appears on the cover of ESPN's annual Body Issue, which has a long history of celebrating the bodies of talented sportspeople.


venus williams


For the 2014 issue, Venus joins six other world-renowned athletes including Olympic snowboarder Jamie Anderson, Texas Ranger first baseman Prince Fielder, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka and Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.

And what's more all of them are starkers. This isn't some lads' mag trying to sell covers by objectifying women. In fact, there more naked men and than women.



From warrior-like to more slender, ESPN champions the various physiques of athletes from different disciplines.

And there's no question to which category Venus falls into.

The former no.1 seed and seven-time Grand Slam champion is known for her strength and speed (she has the fastest serve ever recorded by a woman at 129mph), is ferocious on court and has a body to die for.

So, it's no surprise that the 34-year-old looks completely at ease in the shoot (more pictures here). The images are empowering, elegant, simple and, as I've mentioned, I just can't take my eyes off of her bottom.

And Venus isn't the only one promoting a 'fit not thin' body type.

Recently there has been a surge of fit women on social media changing the conversations around body image, linked by a range of fitness-inspired hashtags.

Their toned abs, pert bottoms and slender legs have been crafted by hard work and nutritional awareness - as opposed to cutting calories, food groups and unhealthy attitudes.

Fashion magazines are lambasted for featuring emaciated women on their covers and rightly so. According to figures, there are currently 1.6 million people in the UK affected by an eating disorder and the vast majority (89%) are female.

ESPN shows that it's possible to have a beautiful body that is also healthy.

If it's a toss up between Venus Williams or a triple zero celebrity, I know which body I'd prefer to have.

Equal Play for Equal Pay?

Tom Mellor   |   July 9, 2014   12:17 PM ET

Regardless of how good the matches, the debate of gender equality in tennis still rears its head every Grand Slam, even seven years after men's and women's winnings were made equal. The physical comparisons are indisputable; men play faster, they play for longer, they are the better tennis players. But is that what we are compensating?

Prize money is a reward, not a salary. It is given for the dedication and commitment that it takes to dominate the opposition in the toughest tournaments and to get to this point it will have taken a lifetime of sacrifice. Travel, coaching and equipment all cost the same regardless of gender, hotel rooms and plane tickets are no cheaper for women. There are no concessions when hiring a top coach or joining a club based on a player's sex.

If women were not worthy of being on the same court how could they allow mixed doubles? If anyone would want to argue that men should be paid more than women in a modern progressive society, that would raise some questions in itself.

Grand Slams are the only time where men are asked to play five sets and looking at the results it is evident that half the men's first round matches are won in straight sets. All other Tour competitions throughout the same long, gruelling season (for both genders) are battled over three sets. Perhaps the business end of the men's tournament can be exhibitions of attrition and stamina that you will never see in the women's game but whether this always adds to the quality and entertainment of the match can be debated.

Outside the top 50 ranked players riches are scarce. The number of women earning more than $500k a year is a third less than the men, (37 women to 58 men in 2013) and the ones lucky enough to climb the rankings work just as hard outside of the few weeks they are on our TVs. Women are just as valuable a commodity from a sports marketing perspective, perhaps even more so in the world of celebrity.

Ultimately why are people so offended by equal pay? Who is wronged by professional players being offered the same prize? The improved women's pot did not come out of the men's, in fact they have both increased dramatically since equal pay was introduced in 2007 from £700k to £1.76m in 2014. If you do not like watching women's tennis there is a very simple solution; turn over or don't go.

Some of the quotes attributed to critics of the financial parity have proved a sports public relations rally to equal any match. Gilles Simon, a previous top 10 player and now part of the ATP players council, was criticised for saying "I believe men's tennis is more interesting than women's tennis. You have to be paid on that basis." Maria Sharapova's response that "more people watch my matches than his" perhaps a fitting end to the argument.

Roger Isn't Over or Out.

David Fearnhead   |   July 8, 2014    3:48 PM ET

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Credit: Scott Heavey/AELTC (Wimbledon.com)


One image haunts me from this year's Wimbledon. It is that of Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player of his generation, and probably of all time. He cuts a forlorn figure as he stands clutching his silver salver. A finalist, not a champion. This isn't the Roger Federer who blubbed his way through his speech after defeat to Rafa Nadal in the 2009 Australian Open Final. On that occasion he was trying to match Pete Sampras' record of 14 career grand slams, and the emotion was raw and untamed. This was different. Federer's emotion seemed all the greater for being contained. He wiped away a single tear which rolled down his right cheek, though the sadness in his face could not be swept away so easily. He was still chasing records, an unprecedented eight title at the All England Club.

As Novak Djokovic lifted the trophy it was to Federer that my eyes were drawn. Even the sight of his two beautiful daughters failed to lift the deep sadness etched upon his face. He spared us the platitudes so often echoed by sportsmen who have become fathers and say there are more important things in life than winning at sports. That's not to say I doubt for a moment that Roger's love for his children is unrivalled, but I don't doubt either that he is a champion and champions win. Here was perhaps the greatest of all champions, a player still at the height of his powers, and he'd just been beaten. Some, wrongly in my opinion, saw Roger's defeat as a sign that his greatest was on the wain. I saw the five-set match as a vindication that Roger is still at his peak. Still able to compete with best of the younger players.

I admit I've not always favoured Federer. I could be won over by the swashbuckling style of Nadal, or the rubber legged antics of Djokovic, and there is always a thrill in seeing a Champion defeated and new talent emerge. Yet as time has gone on I've found myself won over. Time waits for no man, and Federer won't be around forever. Whilst his style of play may see him outlast the younger Nadal, there will come a time when we'll see Roger say farewell to Centre Court. When that sad day comes, my heart - which has been in love with this game since Becker and Edberg were duelling on court and not in the coaching box - will feel very heavy indeed.

Perhaps it was the sight of Becker, now coaching Djokovic, which brought about this feeling of premature melancholia. I still remember the day in 1997 when Boris had lost to Pete Sampras and realised his time was up. As the two met at the net Boris could be heard telling Pete that he'd just played his last game at SW19. Even though he actually returned two years later and made it to the fourth round.

Jimmy Connors asked an interesting question during the commentary,

"Do they realise what they are watching here?"
Often we don't. Nadal's 2008 victory is regarded as one of the greatest finals of all time, but it was only made great because in Federer he faced a grass court giant. It was McEnroe and Borg. One needed the other.

Tennis without Federer would be a poorer place. He is still the benchmark to which all players should aspire. His results in the majors may show that Roger's dominance in the men's game has slipped, but it's less that Federer has fallen back and more that the pack have caught up. However, like all greats we are still seeing Roger's game evolve. The addition of Stefan Edberg to his coaching set up has seen the birth of a new aspect to Roger's game. At coming forwards he is unrivalled. I consider myself highly fortunate to be born in the same generation as Federer. I've seen him win 17 grand slam titles, and be in the top ten for 12 straight years, and yet there were moments during this Wimbledon when I was left without words from the sheer beauty of his game. John McEnroe likened his movement to that of the great ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, and I can understand why. Whilst others bring a raw power, Federer seems to dance with grace and elegance. At times he elevates the sport to an art form.

People like to say players win because they want it more. It's a nice thought, often repeated, but it is an untruth. Djokovic did not beat Federer because he wanted it more, and to say so is to do a great disservice to two Champions. These were two players who gave all they had, and at the end of the day it was Nole who won more of the important points than Roger. If they were to play on another day perhaps the result would have gone Roger's way, but that is not how sport works. You can't win by want, you can only win by ability. I might want to beat McEnroe more than he wants to beat me, but at the end of the day his skills would leave me lucky to even get a game off him.

Federer turns 33 next month, it's hardly time to be writing of retirement. The Fed Express will still be running and calling at its usual stops for years to come. It is poignant that on Sunday, just like in 2009 after that Australian Open defeat Federer signed off by saying,

"See you next year,"
When he returned to Melbourne in 2010 he reclaimed the title. I have no doubt that Federer is more than capable of doing the same at SW19 in 2015. He is not done winning grand slams. And those who write him off are more than just premature, they risk looking like idiots.

  |   July 7, 2014   11:46 AM ET

Andy Murray should consider working without a coach after his quarter-final Wimbledon exit, according to Virginia Wade.

This tournament was Murray's first grand slam working with France's 2006 Wimbledon winner Amélie Mauresmo, who he appointed as successor to Ivan Lendl only the previous month.

Ahead of Wimbledon, Wade said she thought Murray's decision to hire Mauresmo was a joke and was struggling to understand the logic behind it.

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Mauresmo was appointed Murray's coach last month


And speaking on Sunday to BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme, former Wimbledon champion Wade said: "I think it was very optimistic to think she (Mauresmo) could have an impact in a couple of weeks before a major tournament.

"I feel that he learned so much from Lendl that it is not that essential that he actually has somebody telling him what to do.

"He needs to implement all that himself. He has a great team around him, so possibly he was better just doing the thinking himself.

"I'm not 100 per cent sure about that, because I know that he has people in his team that are very good tennis people.

"But unless he can find the right person to be his coach, I think he is better off to fight a bit on his own and assimilate all of the stuff he has heard from Lendl and from his own experience, and work on that."

She added: "I think if the Amelie relationship is going well, absolutely keep her on.

"But I think it was really worrying for him, the last few months with all the speculation which certainly was worrying for all of us, that a decision could not be made - that he did not know who was likely to be there.

"If he can continue with Amelie, I think that would be great, but I'm still saying that he is master of his own fate in so many ways."

  |   July 7, 2014   10:50 AM ET

You know Samuel L. Jackson, it's his duty to please that booty, but Victoria Beckham did not look too pleased to be sat beside the coolest man in Centre Court's Royal Box for the Wimbledon final.

Looking customarily unhappy whenever the BBC's cameras homed in on her, Mrs Beckham experienced one particularly awkward moment as she observed an edgy silence with Mr Jackson.

The Wimbledon Attitude

Lucy Roberts   |   July 7, 2014    1:23 AM ET

Wimbledon is the talk of the UK at the moment for obvious reasons.

For those of you who are unaware of what Wimbledon is, it's a place. However, it's also the place of the biggest tennis competition of the year. More info here: Wimbledon Tennis Competition

Each day there have been highlights shown on TV - who has won, lost - you know, a general overview of the day.

This sparks the question of what it takes to be a winner, such as Novak Djokovic.

Now, let's look at this in the context of tennis to keep it topical.

There are three main points to keep in mind to be a winner. Whether that's a winner at life, sports, quizzes... you name it, this is your answer.


1) You can't win all of the time

- The sooner you accept this, the easier it will be. Every has good days, and not so good days. You cannot be on top of your game the whole time


2) Prepare

- Preparation is not just about knowing what is coming and planning for it. It is about being the best you can be, and constantly pushing yourself to be flexible in dealing with whatever situation may arise.

Say you were in a tennis game (see where Wimbledon comes in?). You may plan your technique, where you would like to place the ball etc, but this will only work if your opponent does what you want.

That will not happen all of the time. Same with life. Things will not always work out the way you want them to. You have to equip yourself enough (by using experiences you've had growing up, observing, or seeking advice) to be flexible in dealing with a variety of situations that may arise. This may simply be by ensuring you have a solid support system around you.

Nevertheless, preparation is key.

3) Positive Attitude
Wimbledon winners cannot go into a game believing they are going to lose. If this was the case, they would not perform at their highest level, and therefore may not win the match. Yes, sometimes they may be lucky and come out on top, but can you really fully enjoy the win if you know you could have done better? For some that is enough, but not always.

Players strive for a positive mental attitude constantly. This includes during the match (or difficult life situation), and afterwards.

People often look back and create a distorted memory of an incident according to how they would like to remember and retell it. This does no one any good!

In tennis, if players turned sour after losing a match, they only lose their sportsmanship and credit. They let only themselves down. This is the same whether they lose, or they win. Nothing is to be gained from boasting in a win, or blaming others for a loss.

The same goes for life.

Nothing positive will be gained from boasting, or from laying in self pity and passing on the blame. Keeping a positive attitude whilst taking responsibility and being proud of whatever the outcome (as long as you have done what is right, and given it your best shot) will be key in preparation for the next obstacle (or tennis match of course).

The Wimbledon Attitude summed up (APP):

- Accept you can't always win
- Prepare
- Positive attitude (at all times, if possible)

APP

More at: www.lucyroberts04.blogspot.co.uk

  |   July 6, 2014    4:07 PM ET

Novak Djokovic is the WImbledon champion for the second time following an epic five-set victory over Roger Federer.

The world No.1 triumphed 6-7 (7/9) 6-4 7-6 (7/4) 5-7 6-4 to end his Grand Slam finals heartache, having lost five of his last six majors.

Djokovic served for the match in the fourth set and had a match point on Federer's serve but each time the 32-year-old Swiss player hung on.

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Djokovic had lost five of his last six finals before his Wimbledon duel with Federer


But the Serbian's resilience proved vital and he rallied to secure his seventh slam, while Federer will be left to wonder whether he will ever get a better chance to win an 18th slam.

"I would like to dedicate this title to my first coach Jelena Gencic," Djokovic said. "She passed away last year and this title is for her."

"This is the tournament I always dreamed of winning. The best tournament, the most valuable one."

Of Federer, Djokovic said: "He's a great role model, a great champion and I thank him for letting me win today.

"That's why he's been the most successful player ever because he comes up with his best shots under pressure."

Federer said: "It was a great final, I can't believe I made it to five [sets]. It wasn't looking good for a while.

"Definitely I felt the love out here again, I've enjoyed myself a lot. See you next year."

Samuel Luckhurst   |   July 6, 2014   10:35 AM ET

Roger Federer takes on Novak Djokovic in his ninth Wimbledon final at 2pm on Centre Court today. Djokovic, playing in his third SW19 final, has not won a Grand Slam since the 2013 Australian Open and since lost in three major finals, including last year's All England Club showpiece against Andy Murray.

  |   July 5, 2014    4:23 PM ET

Petra Kvitova is queen of Wimbledon after beating tennis darling Eugenie Bouchard, who was being watched by her royal namesake Princess Eugenie of York.

Czech champion Kvitova fell to the ground in jubilation when she realised she was the winner before embracing her family and supporters in the players' box.

It is Kvitova's second Wimbledon title, having won the grand slam tournament in 2011, winning this time round with a 6-3 6-0 victory that took just 55 minutes, making it the shortest final since 1983.

After losing the final set Bouchard sat motionless in her chair, while Princess Eugenie and her boyfriend Jack Brooksbank applauded from the Royal Box.

Kvitova became the first Wimbledon champion to make use of a new gate which enabled her to celebrate with her loved ones without climbing onto the commentary box roof.

She fought back tears of joy during her post-victory interview, saying: "I just really wanted to be here again with the trophy."

The 24-year-old became emotional as she paid tribute to her family, and as the camera turned to her father, the proud dad looked on in tears.

She said afterwards: "He has a birthday tomorrow so I'm just glad that he has a nice present."

A disappointed Bouchard, who appeared to be in tears following her defeat, said: "First of all I'd like to congratulate Petra. She's played fantastic these two weeks."

She said getting to the final was a "step in the right direction", adding: "I don't know if I deserve all your love today but I really appreciate it."

Also in the Royal Box were Love Actually stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Keira Knightley, who was accompanied by her husband James Righton.

Christine Bleakley was joined by her footballer fiance Frank Lampard, who might have hoped to pick up some tips on how to become a champion following England's disastrous World Cup campaign in Brazil.

American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, with her trademark bob and sunglasses, was also in the stands at Centre Court, while The Big Bang Theory actor Jim Parsons - a close friend of Bouchard - was in the players' box.

Going into this year's final, the focus was on Bouchard, who said it would be "amazing" to meet the person she was named after.


Andy Murray's Shock Wimbledon Loss Enshrouded In Mystery Over Rant

Andy Murray's Rant: 5 Possible Reasons Behind The Meltdown

And Princess Eugenie, 24, made a "last minute" decision to come to Wimbledon to support her.

Bouchard, 20, is named after the princess, while her twin sister Beatrice is named after Princess Beatrice, and their brother is called William after the Duke of Cambridge.

The defeated finalist said: "That was crazy. I did see her in the box. I'm very happy that she came out. Disappointed I couldn't put on a better show for her, but I'd love to meet her, of course.

"It's the only person I'm named after. She's the only one in the world.

"I haven't seen her. If she's still here, hopefully I'll get a chance to meet her."

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: "Princess Eugenie was delighted to be able to attend the Wimbledon final and see the game.

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Czech champion Kvitova hold the Wimbledon trophy aloft


"Genuinely a last minute change of plans made it possible. HRH sends her congratulations to both players."

The two women were asked to leave the court while the Centre Court roof was closed for the presentation.

Bouchard revealed an official told her to wait in the engraver's room, which she described as being "a little odd".

She said: "I was watching them work, wishing one day, dreaming that he'll write my name somewhere."

She added: "Maybe it's a bit cruel. She just told me to go in there. I didn't ask questions."

Bouchard revealed she would now take a break from her strict regime and was looking forward to eating a chocolate brownie.

"Comfort food is the best," she joked.

Fans in Centre Court claimed she appeared nervous during the final, which lasted only 55 minutes.

Andrew Tice, 39, from Harpenden, Hertfordshire, said: "Kvitova's game plan was spot on. She had a big first serve.

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Winners and losers: Bouchard and Kvitova pose for the Wimbledon photographers

"Bouchard's problem was she didn't get enough first serves in. She was a bit nervous. It was her first final and she's still quite young."

Catherine Charles, 45, from Fleet, Hampshire, said: "Once things started going wrong it's really hard to find the strength to turn it round because she's so young."

Bouchard's comments that her relationship with British player Laura Robson had cooled made front page news before the match.

Robson, who worked as a BBC Radio 5 live analyst during of the match, said: "It's a bit awkward isn't it? It's her Wimbledon final and this is her moment.

"To make it about anything other than the tennis was a bit silly in my mind. This should be about the achievement she's made and how incredible she's played over the last two weeks."

Why Women Can Never Win at Wimbledon

Gwendolyn Smith   |   July 4, 2014    1:36 PM ET

When it comes to Wimbledon, people tend to develop strong opinions on subjects that have no real connection to tennis. Strawberries. Pimms. The precise date on which Andy Murray plans to propose to his girlfriend.

These fascinations are largely harmless (if you overlook the nationalistic fervour embedded in the public's love of a good British strawberry). Still, there's one point of distraction that's more serious than the rest. The dissection of female tennis players' bodies. Short, fat, facially disappointing; no matter how faultless her game is, a woman can never win in Wimbledon on the subject of her physical attributes.

According to social media, the tournament's female stars are "either very ugly or very attractive". Honestly, when will the tennis world start catering for those who like to masturbate over the mediocre? No one seems to have noticed that female players, apart from putting in a few more hours in the gym, are just like the rest of the sisterhood - in tennis, as in life, there are normal women, and then there are women like Maria Sharapova. Unfortunately, a large proportion of sports enthusiasts seem to have heard the phrase "athletic prowess" as "long Russian legs", and are consequently treating the tournament as some sort of Miss World competition, but with more grunting.

Overlooking the serious consequences of sexism for a minute, it's pretty clear that gawking at athletes' bodies is something average people do in response to a game they can neither play nor understand. After all, there are only so many points the typical TV viewer can make about backhand. But turning to Twitter to berate the muffin top of someone who has just served a 120 mph ace is surely a sign it's time to get out more?

Along with the public, international federations and the media require more than just sport from their sports stars. Only last year, commentator John Inverdale said that Wimbledon's women's champion, Marion Bartoli, was "never going to be a looker". And the Daily Mail reported in 2009 that top women's seeds were being ousted from Wimbledon's prime courts to make way for less successful but prettier players. Across the Atlantic, the USTA tried to prevent Taylor Townsend from playing at the 2012 US Open because of perceived problems with her weight, even though she was the highest ranking junior in the world.

Of course, it's not only women's bodies that are put in the spotlight. Type in "Nadal's arms" on Twitter and you can almost smell the pheromones. And last year, Murray appeared unable to walk out of the sea without being compared to Daniel Craig. (Annoying as this must have been for the stern Celt, surely it's a boom for the everyman; inheriting Bond-levels of sex appeal appears to require little more than retreating to the shore when you get cold on holiday.)

It seems prudish to completely ignore the fact that the BBC's Wimbledon coverage involves watching journalists herding around a confection of highly-snoggable human beings. But obsessing about female players' looks in particular seems wrong in the context of both sport and wider society - women only received equal prize money in Wimbledon six years ago and have spent generations being honked at by weirdos in vans who want to congratulate them on their tits.

There's a line between fantasising about Sharapova's slender legs and labelling someone a trollish screen-hogger, but it's a hard one to draw while sexism is still so ingrained in society. Just for now, Wimbledon-watchers remain safer concentrating all athletic appreciation into the origins of their strawberries.

  |   July 3, 2014    4:37 PM ET

Eugenie "Genie" Bouchard has reached her first ever Grand Slam final following her Wimbledon semi-final win over Romanian Simona Halep.

Bouchard defeated the third seed 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 to continue her excellent majors record this calendar year, having reached the last four at the Australian and French Open.

Here's everything you need to know about tennis' latest golden girl...

  • She is named after Princess Eugenie, her twin sister is named after Princess Beatrice and her brother is named William. Her mother loves the royal family.
  • She is the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam women's final. Toronto’s Carling Bassett reached the semis at the U.S. Open in 1984.
  • Junior Wimbledon winner in 2012
  • Voted WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2013
  • She is already drawing comparisons with Maria Sharapova. Bouchard’s agent, Sam Duvall, even said: "I really think she has the ability to be more marketable than Maria. She speaks the two languages."
  • Bouchard attended The Study, a private all-girls school, until she moved to Florida at the age of 12 to pursue her tennis career.
  • She used to be obsessed with the Jonas brothers.
  • Her "dream date" is Justin Bieber.
  • If her tennis career didn’t take off, Bouchard said she'd be an air traffic controller.


Samuel Luckhurst   |   July 3, 2014   11:52 AM ET

Andy Murray's cryptic tirade has dominated the fallout from his Wimbledon exit.

"Five fucking minutes before the match," Murray cursed when 2-4 down in the third set against Grigor Dimitrov. In an attempt to shed some light on his Centre Court outburst, here are five suggestions as to what could have affected the Scot five minutes before the match...

andy murray

"Why did I take that call from Salmond?"


He was reminded of that Richie Tenenbaum clip
"Why'd you choke out there, Baumer?" Perhaps Murray's preparation was interrupted by someone mentioning the mother of all tennis meltdowns, when Richie Tenenbaum made 72 unforced errors, failed to win a single game, played "the worst tennis of his life", took off his shoes, one of his socks and was seen crying. Windswept Fields has never seen anything like it and the very mention of it possibly affected Murray's build-up.

Kim Sears switched Loose Women on
Daytime TV exposes terrestrial TV's limitations like no other time, and five minutes before Murray emerged onto Centre Court at 1pm Loose Women was on. Kim Sears is a huge fan of the show and thought the sexist chit-chat would allow Murray to switch off and concentrate on his game when, like catching a glimpse of Miranda or Mrs Brown's Boys, it actually infuriated him.

Alex Salmond rang him for a ticket
It's bad enough for Murray Alex Salmond is a compatriot. Considering Salmond's penchant to irritate just about anyone south of the border, it would make sense if Murray vented his spleen upon remembering he received a call and heard the Linlithgow politician's burr demanding ticke's for Centre Court.

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Shock picture: Alex Salmond in England


He was told his mum was watching Jamie
Few care about the doubles at Wimbledon, and fewer care about Jamie Murray's tennis career. His mum, Judy, understandably does, though, and her attendance for his match caused her to arrive late for two-time Grand Slam singles winner Andy's quarter-final contest. The sibling rivalry consumed Murray after he discovered mum would be absent for the start.

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Judy Murray keeps tabs on Jamie on her Smartphone


He had a row with Kim Sears
The less frivolous - and plausible - suggestion, given the two departed the All England Club separately and Sears looked visibly upset (well, her boyfriend had just been thrashed). Would she have been with him five minutes before a match? We may never know, but a spousal tiff would explain Murray's rage and why Dimitrov thought he looked distracted.

Samuel Luckhurst   |   July 3, 2014    9:00 AM ET

The manner of Andy Murray's straight-sets thrashing at the hands of Grigor Dimitrov, having won his previous four Wimbledon matches without dropping a set this Championships, was perplexing. And seven words uttered have dominated a post-mortem that suggests off-court events may have affected the Scot's display.

Andy Murray's Rant: 5 Possible Reasons Behind The Meltdown

Cryptically, Murray was heard shouting "five fucking minutes before the match starts" when 4-2 down in the third set. No longer a player who often allows his emotions to get the better of him, the telling tirade suggested Murray was unsettled. Dimitrov "sensed" something was awry since Murray had not "looked right" in the warm-up.

"I think it's just a feeling," the Bulgarian opined. "I know how he is striking the ball when he is at his best. I sensed that his game was not at the highest level. As soon as we hit the first ball on the court I felt something was just a little different. I just had to go with the flow."

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Murray was beaten in straight-sets by Dimitrov on Wednesday

Murray's coach, Amélie Mauresmo, girlfriend Kim Sears and mother Judy Murray were all in attendance on Centre Court. Murray left the All England Club immediately after his post-match interview without changing out of his tennis kit.

Miss Sears, 26, was later seen leaving Wimbledon alone but Murray, who remembered to bow to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge after his defeat, insisted he had a "bad day".

This calendar year, Murray has not beaten a top-10 player or reached a final. The 27-year-old's break from the game to undergo back surgery and split with former coach Ivan Lendl are two standout factors, but since the heady high of beating Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon 12 months ago he has struggled.

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Kim Sears leaves the grounds separately from Murray after the straight sets loss

Murray looked nervous and leaden-footed against 11th seed Dimitrov but insisted expectation was not a factor in his performance.

"I handled the pressure fine," he said. "I started the tournament well. I was playing good tennis. Today was a bad day from my side. I made many mistakes and then started going for too much and taking chances that weren't really there. It was a tough day all around."

Murray's spokesman, Matt Gentry, said the player "always mutters to himself... occasionally his language is a bit colourful... he was off his game."

Whatever the reasons behind Murray's grievance, his elimination prolongs a torrid summer for British sport after the England national team experienced their worst World Cup since 1958, the rugby players were defeated by the All Blacks and the cricket side were beaten by Sri Lanka in their first summer Test series.

judy murray

Judy Murray watches son Andy yesterday

  |   July 2, 2014    5:09 PM ET

Playing tennis can strengthen the bone in your racquet arm by up to 63%, a study has shown.

But, to get the greatest benefit, it pays to be male and to start young, according to the research.

Scientists working with the Lawn Tennis Association carried out tests on 138 elite tennis players aged 10 to 90.

tennis player

They found that the bone in the upper part of the arm young players used to hold their racquet was on average 40% bigger than the opposite arm bone. In some cases, the difference was as much as 63%.

Players who took up the game as adults, when bones stop growing, were much less affected than those who had played from a young age.

Older women players also derived less benefit than their male counterparts.

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Lead researcher Alex Ireland, from Manchester Metropolitan University, said: "Serving and playing strokes seems to produce large twisting forces which stress the bones. So they adapt to these forces by growing larger.

"One area of bone which really benefited from tennis was the wrist, which is a really common site for fracture, especially when you're older. Tennis allows you to strength this vulnerable area.

"Humans probably lose about 15-20% bone mass in their arms between the ages of 20 to 90, which the growth from playing tennis could counteract."

Some small differences between arms are seen in non-athletes because people tend to favour one arm over the other when writing or carrying a bag, for example. But the differences in tennis players are about 10 times greater than in non-players, said the researchers.

Study participants had cross-sectional computer tomography (CT) scans taken of their upper and lower arms.

The tests took place at the LTA British Open Veterans Indoor Championship, the British Open Veterans Clay Court Championship, and the LTA British Junior Championship.