- Only one women’s match was presented during the night session of Roland-Garros, against nine for men.
- The director of Roland-Garros, Amélie Mauresmo, attributed this choice to women’s tennis having less “appeal”.
- World number one Iga Swiatek said the comments were “disappointing”, especially from a former WTA star.
Only one of this year’s prestigious French Open night matches featured women.
Nine were dedicated to the male side.
Asked about the disparity, French Open director and former women’s tennis star Amélie Mauresmo explained the decision on the basis that women’s tennis had less “appeal”.
“In this era that we’re in right now, I don’t feel – and as a woman, a former women’s player, I don’t feel wrong or unfair to say that right now you have more attraction , more attractiveness – Can you say that? Call? – for men’s matches,” Mauresmo told a press conference during the tournament. “My goal was, when I was doing the schedule every day, to try to see…which women’s draw match can I put in there. [at night]. Frankly.”
“I admit it was hard,” she added. “It was hard for more than one night to find as you say the ‘match of the day’ [on the women’s side].”
Mauresmo – winner of Wimbledon and the Australian Open – has since been criticized 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 a former player, who is now a tournament director, who made history as the female coach of a top male player. [Andy Murray]really hated women’s tennis the way she did.”
“His words today were inexcusable for a leader,” Shriver added.
The current players also took their offense lightly. World number one Iga Swiatek, who is enjoying a remarkable 34-game winning streak, called Mauresmo’s comments “disappointing” before discussing the merits of women’s football.
“It’s a bit disappointing and surprising because she was also in the WTA,” Swiatek told a press conference after her quarter-final win. “I want my tennis to be entertainment as well, and I’ve always said that. In my most difficult times, I always remember that I also play for people, so I think that’s a personal opinion of each person if they like men’s tennis or more women’s tennis or if they like them as much.”
“But I think women’s tennis has a lot of advantages,” she added. “Some may say it’s unpredictable and the girls aren’t consistent, but on the other hand, it can also be something really appealing and it can really attract more people.”
American Jessica Pegula – the 11th-seeded star who lost to Swiatek in the quarter-finals 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, according to The Post. “I think at the same time we have to have chances to have some really good games to show that it’s also a good product.”
Swiatek secured a decisive semi-final victory at Roland Garros on Thursday with a quick and straight victory over Russian star Daria Kasatkina. She will face the winner of Gauff’s semi-final against Italy’s Martina Trevisan in Saturday’s league match.
Fans can tune in to watch the women’s final at 9 a.m. ET — or 3 p.m. local time — in another noon game.