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We're all talking about a tiny change in women tennis player's dress.

Can you hear it? There’s a storm on the horizon. A sexist storm, erupting over tennis outfits.

Yes, you read that correctly. You see, a new trend has developed in the world of professional women’s tennis: the trend of sponsors strategically placing their advertising logos over the breasts of female players.

Apparently, it’s because everyone is most likely to look at the breasts of a female tennis player when they’re watching her play.

Players such as Italy’s Camila Giorgi, Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, China’s Shuai Zhang and Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska have all been seen sporting the breast logos recently.

Take a look:

Camila Giorgi of Italy (Image: GETTY)

Shuai Zhang of China (Image: GETTY)

Compare that look to what tennis outfits used to look like:

 

Unsurprisingly, it’s a little bit different for the male tennis players. Their logos are generally placed on their shoulders, their shorts or above their chest. If they do have something on their chest, it’s usually just one logo – not the two or three that female tennis players have been seen wearing.

I know what you’re thinking: Is this really worth getting outraged about?

After all, it’s just about some logos on some boobs. It’s not exactly Nigerian schoolgirls being kidnapped and sold to strangers. And besides, women’s tennis outfits generally don’t even have sleeves, hence the placement of the logos needing to be on the front or the back of the outfit.

As Melissa Hoyer from news.com.au says:

Here we have incredibly fit, healthy sportswoman whose number one aim is to play and win at a sport they are bloody good at, the least of their worries is where the sponsor logos are placed.

Do we complain when we see a much needed sponsor plastered their logo on the tight shirt of a footy player? Or on his back, Or on the backside of his shorts?

Women have breasts, Hoyer says. And that’s as far as this story should go.

Hey, what’s the old advertising adage? You place ads where people will see them the most.OK, some will be up-in-arms about that comment but honestly it is NOT up to you or me to play Fashion Police and tell them to get their logos removed.

Let the players decide. They’re big, strong and bright enough to do what they want.

But you know what? To me, this isn’t at all a case of playing Fashion Police. It’s yet another case of women’s sport being unnecessarily sexualised. And that’s something that we need to rile up about.

I write the Sport on Saturdays column here at Mamamia, which runs every Saturday and is designed to be a celebration of the best Australian female athletes. I’ve interviewed surfers, basketballers, cricketers, swimmers, netballers, golfers, rugby players, obstacle runners, skiers and wakeboarders. I’ve even interviewed the only female lifeguard on Bondi Rescue.

Yep. No. Not sexualised AT ALL.

I’ve asked every single one of these women about their take on sexism in sport. And every single one of them has told me the same thing:

There is not enough coverage of women’s sport. There is not enough sponsorship for female athletes – especially for female athletes that don’t fit the aesthetically pleasing, size-zero image that is a marketing dream.

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There are infinite examples of women’s sport having to be sexualised to be appealing to men. Because there’s this opinion that men won’t want to watch women playing sport unless there are boobs and butts on show.

Want some examples?

– The lingerie football league;

– The Roxy Pro ad from last year that was supposed to advertise a surfing contest for professional female surfers – but showed absolutely zero surfing and lots of toned, tanned butt;

– Our Australian women’s soccer team, the Matildas, having to pose for a nude calendar in 2000 in order to earn some money and attention;

– Beach volleyballers, who – up until 2012 – were required to wear bikinis while men got to wear t-shirts and shorts. The rules finally changed last year, but female beach volleyballers continue to wear bikinis, knowing that it’s the reason it remains one of the most-watched sports of the Olympics.

– The endless underwear campaigns and swimsuit shoots featuring mostly-naked female athletes;

Logos placed on women’s tennis outfits are supposed to be harmless. But in this case, they’ve taken on another meaning entirely. They’re encouraging the idea that nobody is noticing the talent of our female athletes – they’re busy looking at their boobs.

I’ve said this a million times and I will continue to say it until other people start to listen. Our female athletes are INCREDIBLE. They are unbelievably strong, fast, fit and talented. Most are also balancing a family, full-time work and/or full-time study, to supplement the lack of income they suffer through being a professional athlete.

Our female athletes are also consistently achieving things that our male athletes haven’t been able to do. Our female soccer and cricket teams have both outperformed our male teams this year, and yet barely anyone knows that they exist.

And we know that sex doesn’t sell when it comes to sport. Last year, an ESPN article discovered that each time a female athlete is pictured in a sexualized way, it diminishes the perception of her athletic ability. The more that people see female sport as sexualised, the less likely they are to take it seriously.

The key is to shift the thinking of society by exposing us to more images of female athletes being ATHLETES. Less skin, less sexiness. More clothes, more talent.

So yeah, I will be getting annoyed about the boob-logos. And I’ll be getting annoyed by anything that encourages us to see our athletes not as athletes, but as sexualised objects, jumping around on that field or that court entirely for our aesthetic enjoyment.

What do you think about the placement of the sponsorship logos? Sexist, or not?