Serena Williams wades into Wozniacki-sparked sexism debate
When Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki make clear statements of dissatisfaction about the way tennis treats women, tournament organisers would be wise to take note.
A sexism debate centred on the scheduling balance between men's and women's matches on the Wimbledon show courts was sparked by Wozniacki on Monday and made its mark, prompting the All England Club to release a statement defending its court-allocation methods.
Now Williams has waded in to broaden the complaint, levelling the accusation at events other than the English showpiece and ensuring serious discussion about a serious issue.
"Every year there's two men's and one women's match on the main courts, Court No. 1 as well as on Centre Court," Williams said. "You know, we're still fighting on that. We've made some progress, but hopefully we'll keep making more progress.
"We made sure that women have more featured matches. It's just a little bit at a time. Hopefully we'll get to the point where we'll even have more featured matches. I don't think it's limited to Wimbledon. We have this problem at a lot of different tournaments. Pretty much most of the tournaments that are both men and women.
"So I think it doesn't start here. It's a huge conversation that we have to have."
The All England Club's statement explained that the "scheduling of the programme of matches to be played each day at The Championships is a complex operation" and went on to list the factors it considers when allocating matches to Centre Court and Court No.1.
Finding space for the "major marquee players", those with a large following for security reasons, keeping sections of the draw together, the effect of late match finishes and the British weather were among the elements taken into account.
"It may not be possible to satisfy the often conflicting requests, but in all cases fairness will be the objective," the statement said.
The sexism debate sparked by comments from Wozniacki and Williams, however, is unlikely to be limited to court scheduling. Discussion about equal prize money in the men's and women's game was long and fierce before significant progress was made and the latest topic may invite other issues on to the agenda.
The attitude toward the noise players make on court has also been aired at Wimbledon this year already and could also gain traction.
Williams' comments about scheduling were made after she defeated Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals on Tuesday and both players were asked about the crowd's reaction to the noise they made when hitting during the match.
Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion, was not impressed. She said: "It's so, in a way, annoying because guys grunt. I was practicing next to [Rafael] Nadal and he grunts louder than me.
"Look at the good stuff. Stop bringing this ridiculous stuff. Let's put aside the noise and how she looks, and look at the game."