Victoria Azarenka says French Open lacks gender equality, aside from prize money

Victoria Azarenka called out the French Tennis Federation for gender inequality on Sunday following her loss in the fourth round at the French Open.

During her postmatch news conference, Azarenka was asked about the lack of women's matches in the night session during the tournament. Just one -- a first-round match between Serena Williams and Irina-Camelia Begu -- of the seven prime-time matches has featured women.

"What concerns me is when somebody from French Federation is continually trying to say there is equality and only pointing out to prize money, which is true," Azarenka said. "Everything else, I wouldn't even agree for a little with that. And that's disappointing."

Initial reports in April about the addition of night matches at the 2021 French Open stated they would only feature male competitors, but the tournament dispelled that in a news release.

Azarenka, the two-time major champion and former world No. 1, said there have been other examples of the unequal treatment at Roland Garros.

"I mean, I think there [are] enough examples over the years where we've heard remarks towards women, where we've seen two women's semifinal matches playing on the outside courts," she said. "I mean, you guys, if you follow tennis, you know what I'm talking about. I think there [are] no surprises that I can reveal here.

"I think sometimes you need to hold some people accountable for some of those things and not continuously point out to the obvious of prize money."

Guy Forget, the tournament director at Roland Garros, said scheduling the night matches was difficult but said the issue of balance should be seen over the days as a whole.

"On [Court Philippe] Chatrier, we are playing four matches a day," Forget told ESPN. "And it's 50-50, two men, two women."

Forget said he "accepted the criticism" that substantially more men's night matches were scheduled but suggested the tournament wanted to give more value to those buying tickets -- even though fans will only be allowed in to the last of the 10 night sessions Wednesday, when the Paris curfew moves back to 11 p.m.

"There was a possibility of a match between Ashleigh Barty and Coco Gauff [in the fourth round]. It's the kind of match that you potentially want to see on a night match," Forget said. "Unfortunately, Ashleigh, the No. 1 player in the world, had to withdraw with an injury.

"So it is very hard to choose. ... Would people rather watch Roger Federer or at the moment, some of the ladies matches that are happening? It's a tough call to make. But I guess this is the path we took and we'll see how that goes next year."

Forget said Roland Garros would discuss the issue before planning the night sessions at next year's event with everyone involved, including the event's media partners.

Neither of the women's semifinal matches during the 2019 French Open was held on Court Philippe Chatrier, the tournament's center court, unlike both of the men's matches in the same round. Both singles champions will earn $1.7 million for winning the tournament this year.

Azarenka lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 5-7, 6-3, 6-2, ending her attempt to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the first time since 2013.

ESPN's Simon Cambers contributed to this report.