Female tennis players at Wimbeldon are complaining of sexism in the scheduling at the U.K. tournament because men are getting to play on prime show courts more often, media outlets reported Tuesday.
Victoria Azarenka, 27, alleged that she had to wait all day for her matches to even be scheduled for the first round, separating her from her 6-month-old baby, the Telegraph reported. The last two championships did indeed schedule men more often for Court 1 appearances than women, but mens’ viewership almost always outstrips womens’.
In January’s Australian Open, the men’s final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal broke ESPN viewership records for the channel’s late-night time slot, while the women’s final between Serena and Venus Williams had 23 percent lower ratings.
Statistician and author Mark Leyland originally leveled the sexism accusation after an analysis showing the prominence of men’s matches on show courts.
“Tennis is one of the few sports where women get equal prize money and should, ideally, get equal prominence,” Leyland told the Telegraph. “For Wimbledon, still the biggest tournament in the world, to neglect the women’s tournament, whether it be the broadcaster or the organizers, is to go against that.”
His accusations come just days after tennis champion John McEnroe claimed that Serena Williams would be “700 in the world” if she played against men in an NPR interview, igniting a Twitter storm of other sexism allegations.
In the interview, McEnroe called Williams “the best female player ever — no question,” but then the interviewer asked him why he added the qualifier “female player,” to which McEnroe responded, “if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story,” placing her at around 700 in the world.
McEnroe later stood by his statements, declining to apologize in a CBS interview, claiming that he didn’t expect his comments to be controversial.
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