BBC PRESENTER JOHN Humphrys has been criticised for questioning if tennis star Johanna Konta — a British citizen and Team GB athlete — is truly British.
The 26-year-old, who reached the semi-final stages of Wimbledon last week, was interviewed on the Today programme on Radio 4 earlier.
When questioned, Konta clarified that she had lived in the country for half of her life, and that she had represented Team GB at the Olympics.
“We talk about you as being British, but you were born in Hungary, Australian citizenship,” Humphrys said to the British number one.
“And I seem to remember that the Australian high commissioner, when you won the quarter-final, said ‘great to see an Aussie win.’ And we were saying: ‘great to see a Brit win.’
“So, what are you?”
Laughing, slightly nervously, Konta answered: “I was actually born in Australia to Hungarian parents.
“But I’ve lived half my life here now, almost, so I’m a British citizen, and I’m incredibly proud to represent Great Britain. I have done so officially since 2012 but, definitively, I have personally since 2005 when I moved here.
“I’ve also represented Great Britain at the Olympics, so I’m definitely a British athlete.”
Listeners of the show took to Twitter to defend Konta, while the shadow sports minister, Rosena Allin-Khan, referred to Humphrys’ line of questioning as ‘insensitive’.
“Britain is made greater by the rich cultural mix we are blessed to have. In sport, Johanna Konta is a shining example of this,” she told the Guardian.
“John Humphrys is an experienced journalist, but he has been insensitive here. We have a rich tapestry of people from diverse backgrounds, all of whom identify as and are proud to call themselves British – myself included.”
Note to John Humphrys: Johanna Konta isn't a politician. She is a tennis player that brought joy to millions during Wimbledon. Grow up.
Very mean spirited interview with Johanna Konta on #BBCR4today why can't we celebrate her success & the fact she chooses to be British?
#r4today JH Konta: patronising, lazy, ill-informed, ungenerous. If he can't be bothered, take him off air.
*Very* weird John Humphrys interview with Konta in which he appeared to suggest that tennis star was too old and not British enough #r4today
Now the world number four, Konta’s ability at a young age was also questioned by the veteran presenter.
“You were, so I read, the 388th best junior in Australia. Now, normally, people wouldn’t look at you and say: ‘Ah, she is a future champion.’
“So, what do you think was it about you that attracted people’s attention?” he asked.
She dealt with the question cooly again, laughing “That’s not entirely accurate as well because, actually, I won the under 12s nationals in Australia when I was a youngster, so I was definitely one of the best in the country.
“But that’s the way it is with sport. There’s a lot of things that become misleading or are half-truths. But, again, I’ve had a great journey and I’m really enjoying my tennis where it is now and I’m enjoying the work I’m doing with the team I have around me.”
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