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Volume 6 No. 212
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Time Constraints Hinder Women's Call For Five-Set Grand Slam Matches

The WTA claims women are "willing to play five-set matches in Grand Slam tournaments and all that is required is for the four majors to give the go-ahead," according to Margie McDonald of THE AUSTRALIAN. But time constraints in fitting matches from two, 128-strong singles draws, together with doubles, and mixed doubles into one two-week period is "still seen as a major stumbling block." Surveys also reveal that people "prefer three-set matches for women's tennis." The WTA believes the best-of-five format should start at quarterfinal level, when prize money begins to skyrocket. The ease with which players such as Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka won their early rounds in Melbourne has "brought the pay issue to a head once again." WTA CEO Stacey Allaster said that the Grand Slam Committee, comprised of the chairmen of the four Grand Slam tournaments and the president of the Int'l Tennis Federation, "was not keen on the five-set concept." Allaster said, "We've long been in this discussion that we'll play five sets, but the slams don't want us to" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 1/25).

In Melbourne, Richard Hinds reported the Australian Open women's final between Li Na and Azarenka "was not sold out" as of Thursday despite tickets having been "on sale for almost four months. With adult tickets costing A$294.90 ($308.64) and children's tickets A$279.90, "maybe the brevity of some women's finals had persuaded would-be ticket buyers the event did not stack up on a dollar-for-play basis." The "value-for-money final was supposed to have been" between Sharapova and Williams. But for the WTA Tour, trading Sharapova and Williams "for a popular woman from the lucrative Chinese market" in Li means "no commercial damage has been done." Sharapova's semifinal defeat "might even have a counter-intuitive outcome." The absence of the "world's most marketable female athlete (and, particularly, her shriek) will make the final more enticing for some" (THE AGE, 1/25).

WITH LOVE: The WTA will honor its four decades of growth and achievements throughout '13 with a season-long campaign named 40 LOVE. The campaign will showcase the pioneers of the game and the current stars that contributed to the ongoing success of women's professional tennis and the WTA (WTA).