How Tennis Player Heather Watson Confronted The Taboo Of Menstruation In Sports

Female Athletes Get Real About Their Periods

British tennis player Heather Watson made headlines last week when she commented on her defeat at the Australian Open, telling reporters that dizziness and nausea due to “girl things” were partly to blame for her disappointing performance.

Since making her comments, Watson has been commended for her candor in discussing menstruation, one of the "last taboos" in sports. In a HuffPost Live conversation on Friday, former pro-tennis player Annabel Croft explained why Watson’s candidness resonated with her.

“Every single woman in the world could identify with what Heather Watson was saying and it was just so unfortunate that for Heather, when her period came, it happened to coincide with one of the biggest events on the calendar year for a tennis player,” she told host Nancy Redd.

Croft discussed her own “difficult” experience with menstruation as a female athlete. Even while she was winning titles at Wimbledon and the French Open, Croft was battling an irregular cycle that could have easily affected her game.

But in the sporting world, the issue of menstruation is rarely broached in public, she said.

“In this modern day and age, sex is talked about so openly, we talk about silicon breast implants … that’s all discussed very openly, but when it comes to women’s menstruation and periods and everything, people sort of scuttle away and really push it under the carpet,” she said. “But when you open the Pandora’s box and you allow women to talk about it, they’re unbelievably good at sharing all of their experiences."

Acknowledging how periods can affect daily life is something "every single woman can identify with," Croft said. But starting a conversation about menstruation in sports has invited a few critics who wonder if a woman's cycle could also be used as an excuse for weak performance. Watch the clip above for more.

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation on menstruation in sports here.

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