Victoria Azarenka raises gender inequality concerns

Victoria Azarenka has raised concerns over gender inequality at the French Open with regards to the scheduling

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Two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka has raised gender inequality concerns at the French Open.

The Belarusian criticised the French Open organisers for favouring men when it came to scheduling night session matches.

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Since the start of the tournament, six of the seven night sessions have featured men’s singles matches.

The only exception was Serena Williams’ first round match against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu on the second day.

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Incidentally, Monday night have the second women’s match during the night session, between defending champion Iga Swiatek and Marta Kostyuk.

This is the first time Roland Garros has specific night session matches. Though these matches, which start at 9 PM local time, are on prime time television, they are played behind closed doors due to the curfew in effect.

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For Azarenka though, women’s matches not making it to the night session is just one example of the French Open organisers’ continuous favouring of men.

“What concerns me is when somebody from the French federation is continuously trying to say that there’s equality and only pointing to prize money,” she said after her fourth round loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

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“Everything else, I wouldn’t even agree a little with that. And that’s disappointing.

“I think there are enough examples over the years where we’ve heard remarks towards women, where we’ve seen two women’s semi-final matches playing on the outside courts.”

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The 31-year-old referred to the 2019 edition of the event when the two women’s singles semi-finals were shifted to the second and third courts – Court Suzanne-Lenglen and Court Simonne-Mathieu respectively.

This was done in favour of the men’s semi-finals, which were held on the main show court, Court Philippe-Chatrier.

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“I think sometimes you need to hold some people accountable for some of those things and not continuously point to the obvious of prize money,” the Belarussian added.

When asked how she would have reacted if she was scheduled to play a night session match, she replied: “I will answer that whenever I will be asked if I would like to play a night session or not. Honestly, that would be already a step forward.”