- Just one women’s match has been featured in the night session at Roland-Garros, compared to nine for men.
- French Open director Amelie Mauresmo blamed the choice on women’s tennis having less “appeal.”
- World No. 1 Iga Swiatek said the comments were “disappointing,” especially from a former WTA star.
Just one of the prestigious night matches at this year’s French Open has featured women.
Nine have been devoted to the men’s side.
When asked about the disparity, Roland-Garros director and former women’s tennis star Amelie Mauresmo explained the decision on the basis of women’s tennis having less “appeal.”
“In this era that we are in right now, I don’t feel — and as a woman, former women’s player, I don’t feel bad or unfair saying that right now you have more attraction, more attractivity — Can you say that ? Appeal? — for the men’s matches,” Mauresmo said in a press conference during the tournament. “My goal was, when I was doing the schedule every day, to try and see… what match in the women’s draw can I put there [at night]. Honestly.”
“I admitted, it was tough,” she added. “It was tough for more than one night to find as you say the ‘match of the day’ [on the women’s side].”
Mauresmo — a Wimbledon and Australian Open winner — has since come under fire for “crossing a line that is not acceptable,” as tennis legend-turned-commentator Pam Shriver told The Washington Post.
“Why did she have to insult women’s tennis?” she asked. “It really hurts to have an alumni player, who’s now a tournament director, who made history as a female coach of a top men’s player [Andy Murray]really diss women’s tennis the way she did.”
“Her words today were inexcusable for a leader,” Shriver added.
Current women’s players expressed offense at the slightest as well. World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who is riding a remarkable streak of 34-straight victories, called Mauresmo’s comments “disappointing” before discussing the merits of the women’s game.
“It is a little bit disappointing and surprising because she was also in the WTA,” Swiatek said during a press conference following her quarterfinal victory. “I want my tennis to be entertainment as well, and I’ve always said that. In my toughest moments, I always remember that I also play for people, so I think it’s a personal opinion of every person if they like men’s tennis or women’s tennis more or if they like them equally.”
“But I think women’s tennis has a lot of advantages,” she added. “Some may say it’s unpredictable and girls are not consistent, but on the other hand, it may also be something that is really appealing and it may really attract more people.”
American Jessica Pegula — the 11th-ranked star who lost to Swiatek in the quarterfinal but remains in the doubles tournament with partner Coco Gauff — expressed similar sentiments after learning of Mauresmo’s comments.
“It’s not something you want to hear,” Pegula said, per The Post. “I think at the same time we need to have chances to have really good matches to show that it is a good product as well.”
Swiatek earned a decisive semifinal victory at Roland-Garros Thursday with a quick, straight-set victory against Russian star Daria Kasatkina. She’ll face the winner of Gauff’s semifinal contest against Italian Martina Trevisan in Saturday’s championship match.
Fans can tune in to watch the women’s final at 9 am ET — or 3 pm local time — in yet another midday match.