This paper addresses the question of the representation of female athleticism in the press. By means of a corpus-assisted analysis of sports reporting of the tennis athlete Maria Sharapova in both the English and Italian press, it offers a cross-linguistic description of the stereotyped language reserved for women in sports settings. The study reveals the presence in the corpus of a discursive frame which tends to trivialize the body of female athletes. This frame emerges from two basic discourse strategies, a thematic strategy, which eroticizes the female body, and a metaphorical strategy, which conceptualizes the female athlete as child-like. The study suggests that this type of representation is motivated by sexist stereotyping related to the ideological interests of male hegemony.

Note on the Author

Diane Ponterotto is professor of English language and linguistics, Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, University of Rome.