Wimbledon 2018: Williams Sisters Laud Centre Court Equality

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Wimbledon courts on Wednesday witnessed a change. For the first time in 25 years, Wimbledon’s six show courts featured more women’s matches than men’s in a single day of play.

Hard to believe, but the schedule was meant to promote women players on the court. The Wimbledon tennis championships gather both top men and women players but on the broadcasting or scheduling front, men always win. The tournament evidently sees propaganda towards male stars. However, this time, Wimbledon bosses have made Venus Williams, a five-time champion at the grass-court Grand Slam, their priority.

Wimbledon’s women started criticizing the authorities for the last few years for a gender equal treatment of the games. A look at the scheduled matches on the courts during the last two championships shows a gender-biased coverage.

This year, however, there were 11 women’s ties scheduled compared to 10 for men. World No 2 Caroline Wozniacki and former US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova are in the spotlight too.

Appreciating the process, Venus, 38, cheered on the decisions. After her second-round win over Alexandra Dulgheru on Court One, she said, “I was really overjoyed when I saw the schedule for today. We have a lot of equal play on the main courts in the other three Grand Slams,” The Indian Express reported.

“It was just fantastic to see Wimbledon also follow suit. It’s wonderful to hopefully have that continue, to have equal for the men and the women.”

Wimbledon chief executive Richard Lewis, on the other hand, said that “their match selection policy has been reconsidered earlier this week,” adding that “the ‘marquee’ matches were given top priority regardless of the sex of the competitors.”

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Venus, who previously fought for an equal prize money for both men and women at Grand Slams said, “I haven’t thought about the pride level. I think it’s just about being able to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Tennis will go on long after I’m done.”

“I just want to see the sport rise, not just women or men, but just tennis in general,” the World No 9 said. “It’s wonderful to see women rise, and I’d like to see these tournaments just get bigger and better.”

Praising the effort Serena stated, “I think it’s wonderful. For so many years it was just two men’s, one women’s. Now it’s several women out there playing. I think it’s a great opportunity. Just really proud to be here and play at a tournament that can recognise that.”

Last year, a tennis fan Mark Leyland, also a novelist and campaigner, had researched and surveyed that during the 2015 championships, 76% of airtime was dedicated to the men’s game, and one day, it crossed 93%, The Guardian reported.

Similarly, Mark Leyland’s findings state:

  • In 2015, BBC featured 66% of matches played by men
  • In 2016, 58% featured men players
  • Every match scheduled on the two show courts in week one, featured top five men’s seeds in 2015
  • Only the top two women – Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova – had been able to capture the attention and were scheduled matches on the show courts.
  • All of the top 13 men’s seeds appeared on the show courts. The top five women appeared on them at least once, but the rest of the top 13 were directed in other courts.

On Wednesday, Serena beat Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova on Centre Court. She opened on Monday against Arantxa Rus on Court One.

Featured Image Credit: Men’s Health

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