French Open under fire for gender disparity in scheduling

Iga Swiatek during a match Top ten

Former French Open winner Mats Wilander has called out a lack of women’s matches in the evening sessions at Roland Garros.

Night-time matches are limited to the floodlit show courts and organisers have sought to have blockbuster encounters on in primetime.

Wilander doesn’t buy the excuse that a women’s singles match would leave fans who bought tickets for the evening session shortchanged.

“I think that it’s ridiculous to not have ladies matches at night,” Wilander said on Eurosport.

“I mean, it’s such an easy problem to solve. You throw in a French pair in mixed doubles where they play shorter matches, they don’t play three sets, they play a tie breaker at one set all.

“I mean, you’ve just got to give them another hour of entertainment in case Iga Swiatek plays.

“The people here would love to support a French mixed team in doubles on centre court. I don’t think that is the problem, I think there is another issue because the problem is very easily solved.”

Former British No 1 Tim Henman sympathised with organisers who have to keep ticket-holders happy.

“I mean, the challenge for the tournament is if you’ve only got one match and you’ve got the option of a best-of-five set match or best-of-three sets, probably for the ticket holder, they’re thinking best-of-five sets.

“When you look at Swiatek matches, you know, she’s winning so quickly. You know, she wins in an hour then are the ticket holders going to get value for money?

“But then you’re looking at the equality and the tournament have said, ‘we very much have four matches on centre court each day and that is being, you know, two men’s and two women’.

“So I think, moving forward, it’s going to be interesting to see whether they do put the women’s matches at night.”

Top WTA player Iga Swiatek had mixed feelings about night sessions saying that she personally prefers day-time matches.

“Obviously, it would be nice if we had women’s matches as well, but as I said, I’m not kind of helping that because I always request a day session,” Swiatek said.

“There are players who like the hype and the energy, and maybe playing during the night because also of the conditions. But for me it’s more comfortable to just have the normal day/night rhythm, and I kind of lost it after Madrid.

“So, in terms of regeneration, recovery, and just kind of being in a good rhythm and also keeping better mindset through the end of the tournament, I think it’s more healthy for me to play day sessions. But I’ll be also ready for night sessions. I already played many of them this year or last year.”

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