Hold the front page - the demure cheerleader with the perfect hair has BEEN CAUGHT SWEARING. Sexism has reached new heights with the sensational reaction to Kim Sears' outburst:
"F***ing have it, you flash Czech f***"
As rallying calls go, it's got real power and punch. But the world was agog at Kim Sears' verdant turn of phrase as she watched fiance Andy Murray battle Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open semi-final.
First came the disbelief. Did the demure-seeming girlfriend with the great hair really use such terminology? An army of lip reading experts were drafted in to affirm that yes actually, she did. Then came a sort of amusement tinged with disapproval, and disappointment.
Murray, asked about the swearing in a completely irrelevant post-match grilling, described it as a regret. Radio 4's Today programme adopted psuedo-grave tones in a dedicated segment, with one commentator saying she felt "very sorry" for Sears in the "unfortunate" incident, as though she had been caught soliciting in a public toilet.
Why the puffery?
Sporting and swearing are hardly unfamiliar bedfellows. If we reached for the smelling salts every time someone uttered an expletive during a match, we'd spend our whole lives in a fragrant stupor.
There's kind of latent sexism at play here, stemming from the lazy and patronising coverage that has haunted Sears ever since she started dated Murray.
Thanks to all those gratuitous courtside close-ups, we've come to know her as a composed, ladylike figure; the non-vocal sidekick of a Wimbledon champion.
Somehow, this 27-year-old English literature graduate has been relegated to the role of compliant non-entity.
While devoting endless column inches to her face, clothes and hair, we know and care nothing about Sears' career as an artist, or her love of Classic FM or Jilly Cooper.
We judge her existence only in terms of Murray, as his "chief cheerleader" with "golden locks" and "impeccable style".
This isn't inherently wrong taken alone. But together it has built up an image of Sears that is entirely colourless and gives no clue to her actual character.
Off-camera, she may be a potty-mouthed layabout who spends her time munching bags of Doritoes in front of Hitched & Ditched, for all we know. Or she may be a highly accomplished, career-driven persona. The lingering crowd camera doesn't give us that level of detail.
A man swearing in the stands would never merit this kind of coverage. It wouldn't even raise an eyebrow. Our shock over Sears swearing is redolent of a bygone era, when society was scandalised by women who refused to conform to sedate norms of behaviour. Or as Jane Austen put in, "A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can."
The reason why we've come over with an attack of the Victorian vapours is that Sears is a woman, a woman we thought we knew as prim and sedate. And she's shown an unexpected feisty side, a glimpse of the real Sears beneath the enviable hair.
About f***ing time too.
Do you agree? Or does Kim Sears' swearing have you reaching for the smelling salts? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @stylistmagazine
Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex Features