Maria Sharapova and Sloane Stephens slam treatment of WTA stars at ‘second-hand’ Brisbane event

Maria Sharapova PA

Maria Sharapova and Sloane Stephens have lashed out at organisers of the Brisbane International over their treatment of WTA Tour players.

The WTA Brisbane International is running at the same time as the inaugural ATP Cup with both events taking place at the Queensland Tennis Centre.

However, the men’s matches have been given priority on the main courts and even world No 1 Ashleigh Barty is expected to play on an outside court.

Stephens, who lost 7-5, 6-3 against Liudmila Samsonova in her opening clash, was unimpressed.

“I think that having an ATP Cup at the same place that you have a premier tournament for the women is a bit challenging,” the former US Open winner said after her defeat.

“I think the practice has been a bit challenging. I think there’s been a lot of challenges just because it’s a new event, combined with the girls, whatever, there’s definitely been some challenges.

“I think that when you’re a No 1 player in the world who is going to play on the side court, I don’t think that that’s great. I think that we just were not, it’s, I think it’s kind of a respect thing.

“We just weren’t in the conversation to even be considered. It was what the ATP wanted, they got what they wanted, girls to the side, that’s kind of how it always is. So I think, yeah, I think it’s unfortunate, but we play and we do what we do and hopefully next year there will be some adjustments.”

Maria Sharapova also lost her opening match as she suffered a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) defeat at the hands of Jennifer Brady, but she was equally vocal about the treatment of WTA players.

“You definitely recognise it and notice it [starting on outside courts], it feels like a little bit of a second-hand event,” the Russian said. “I think on Thursday the girls go back on centre court. But it’s definitely a bit of a strange strategic move.

“I think there’s a lot of girls that are deserving of that centre court spot in this draw, I think there are six out of [the world’s] top 10 players [in Brisbane].”

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