What’s sex got to do with it?

Sex used to sell only in seedy premises just off the high street. Now it is on offer just about everywhere – not least in the sports arena. Lose your clothes and talent is watered down to its pub meaning. For sportswomen in Britain, and around the western world, sex is the quick route to publicity and sponsorship.

Take squash. Despite Britain’s international success at the sport, it continues to receive little media coverage. So, in 2001, at the Women’s International Squash Players Association (Wispa) AGM on the eve of the British Open, delegates came up with a plan: find a girl willing to strip off for the sake of the sport and watch the journalists come flocking.

It worked. Vicky Botwright, a 23-year-old then 18th in the world rankings, was the volunteer. She appeared wearing a black thong and bra combination, claiming she would perform better in less restrictive clothing. Andrew Shelley, chief executive of Wispa, publicly condemned the outfit, and the media frenzy began.

Suddenly, with pictures of Vicky and her “Lancashire Hot Bot”, the sport hit the front, back and middle pages of tabloids and broadsheets and Botwright’s own website took more hits than Anna Kournikova’s – the other sexpot of the time.

Read the rest of Anna Kessel’s report in the Observer by clicking here.

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