French Open Defends Moving Women's Semis Off Center Court
After weather issues at the French Open altered the schedule this week, tournament organizers have tried to "defuse a simmering row over their scheduling of the women’s semi-finals" that were played Friday, stating that they had "chosen to hold the two matches at the same time away from center court 'to respect sporting fairness,'" according to Ossian Shine of REUTERS. After rain on Wednesday postponed two quarterfinal matches, organizers "scheduled both semi-finals, originally slated for Thursday, for Friday." Marketa Vondrousova defeated Jo Konta in the semi-final that was "moved to Court Simonne Mathieu, the newly-built third show court," while Ashleigh Barty beat Amanda Anisimova in the match that was played on the "second-ranked Court Suzanne Lenglen." Both men’s semi-finals remained "on Court Philippe Chatrier, the center court, as planned." WTA CEO Steve Simon in a statement said that he "understood the scheduling issues at Roland Garros." But he added, "We are, however, extremely disappointed by the scheduling of both women’s semi-finals on outside courts." Konta said, "What is tiring and what is really unfortunate in this more than anything is that ... female athletes have to sit in different positions and have to justify their scheduling or their involvement in an event or their salary or their opportunities" (REUTERS, 6/7).
BEST THEY COULD DO? In London, Stuart Fraser writes it is a "great shame" that the women did "not play their semi-finals on the biggest stage." However, the schedule that played out was the "best practical solution given the circumstances," as 15,000 tickets were "sold separately for the men’s matches." There is "not another court that is big enough" at Roland Garros to "accommodate that volume of people." The 24-hour delay to the women’s semi-finals means that Barty and Vondrousova "will not have a rest day before" Saturday's final. By starting the matches "at the same time on other courts, then it at least means that the finalists will have a similar recovery period before the championship match" (THETIMES.co.uk, 6/7).