The oft-unspoken rule of Playboy pictorials: no woman who has a career in something visible ever poses for the magazine unless their career is on the slide and they need a promotional appearance to become known for something other than what they currently do. Enter tennis player Ashley Harkleroad, who will pose in the magazine’s August issue and compounded the announcement by getting pounded out of the French Open by Serena Williams.
The sad part of it is that Harkleroad won’t garner any attention for her tennis, and she’s tacitly admitting that her career seems to be over at the age of 23. Yes, I’m more than aware that tennis players start earlier and retire earlier than most other athletes, and I’m not condemning her decision to pose nude. There’s obviously a debate to be had (and it’s been had before) over whether such pictorials do more damage to female athletes in general than intended. I’m not sure where I come down on that.
She hasn’t won one WTA event after being one of the numerous girls hyped as the latest thing to hit American tennis a few years back, and it just seems kind of sad that the most attention she’ll ever get as a tennis player has absolutely nothing to do with her on-court skills.
(Of course, this blog and others like it are probably to blame indirectly. I don’t write about tennis a whole lot and I don’t watch much of it if it’s not the four Grand Slam tournaments.)