Venus Williams wants equality in outer-court scheduling

WIMBLEDON -- Venus Williams doesn't mind playing on the smaller stage, as long a level field for both men and women is maintained.

The five-time Wimbledon champion contested her second-round match Thursday on Court 18, a modest venue that holds around 800 people.

Williams, the No. 8 seed, defeated Maria Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, and afterward was asked whether she felt animosity toward the All England Club schedule-makers for designating her match for the smaller court.

"I'm not so much into disrespect," Williams said. "I'm willing to play anywhere, anytime. Of course, I was happy to be on the schedule. I think if all players have to play outside, all players should have to play outside. There shouldn't be exceptions or any inequality to it.

"For me, no problems playing anywhere. Anyone should play anywhere."

Persistent pockets of rain have created serious congestion issues. On Tuesday and Wednesday, only 53 of 127 matches were completed, and all 16 second-round women's matches on the schedule were canceled.

"It's not the ideal schedule for the women," Williams said. "We'd like to see equal amount of matches. We don't want more, just the same amount, that's all."

When asked if she could imagine a five-time male champion being on an outside court, Venus said with a smile, "I haven't seen that in the scheduling yet."

After his straight-sets win Thursday, Andy Murray, who is on the ATP Players Council, was asked whether he was surprised that Williams was on Court 18.

"Yes, I guess, a little bit," he said. "As when [Pete] Sampras played on Court 2 a number of years ago when he'd won a bunch of times.

"I mean, I think in general they do a pretty good job of trying to put the best matches for the fans, like Dimitrov-Simon, neither of them are top-10 players, but it's a close, entertaining match. I guess they take that into consideration, as well, like what the best matches of the day are, rather than it just being the big names that play on the big courts."

On Thursday, the outer courts started a half-hour earlier (11 a.m. GMT) than normal in an effort to make up ground.

Top 10 seeds Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic were among the top-10 seeds also relegated to smaller courts, but neither carries the clout of Williams.

"I played many times on outside courts," Williams said. "It didn't matter how many titles I had won or what my ranking was at that time. It didn't make a difference whether I played on an outside court or a center court.

"Like I said, I don't mind where I play. It's just as long as everyone plays on the outside courts."