A top British tennis player lost her very first match at the Australian Open this week. This is noteworthy because she practically admitted straight out that her period was at fault.
That's according to BuzzFeed. Heather Watson never came right out and said she was surfing the crimson wave, but this post-match interview with the BBC seems pretty clear. She admitted she felt light-headed and low on energy, before commenting that "It's a shame that it's today" and "I get it sometimes" and "I think it's just one of these things that I have. Girl things. And it just, yeah, happens." I've probably said those very same words in reference to an ill-timed beach trip.
In the wake of her remarks, other athletes spoke up. Former tennis pro Annabel Croft spoke to the BBC, calling the topic of periods (or, as she referred to it, "women's monthly issues") "the last taboo." She said Watson was "pretty brave, actually," for discussing it. Tara Moore, one of the top five British tennis players, also told the Telegraph that it's a real issue, partly because the subject is relatively taboo and consequently it's hard even to start the discussion. And then there's the terrifying prospect of Wimbledon:
"At Wimbledon we have to wear white, so it's quite a big deal. Especially because male players don't understand that we have another element to deal with.
"[Bleeding on your uniform] is something you feel quite worried about. If something like that happens it's mortifying – it's a nightmare.
"I have had nightmares about that before."
It's not clear what tennis or any other professional sport could do to help. Moore mentioned medicine specifically: "A lot of painkillers specifically for [periods] are banned. Some of them contain performance enhancing drugs," she noted, adding that, "In that sense there should be something that could be done, there should be something specifically made." She'd also like the International Tennis Federation to step up and provide some guidance on dealing with this particular obstacle, especially for young competitors.
Watson said she plans to consult her doctor and see what can be done. But it would probably help to feel like they could simply shrug and say, "welp, it was my damn uterus, what are ya gonna do," as though it were just a weak ankle or slight cough. Periods happen.
Image via Getty.