Maria Sharapova says the women's Brisbane International feels like a "second-hand event" after being forced to start on an outside court due to a clash with the men's ATP Cup.
But it seems she won't be getting too much sympathy from Australia's ATP Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt.
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Sharapova became the latest women's star to raise questions about the inaugural men's team tournament having a monopoly on Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane this week after her shock first round loss to American qualifier Jennifer Brady on Tuesday night.
Sam Stosur said that it was "not great" that the start of the women's Brisbane International had been relegated to outside courts due to a clash with the inaugural men's ATP Cup.
The ATP Cup holds its final round-robin matches in Brisbane on Wednesday.
It ensures even the likes of Australia's world No.1 Ashleigh Barty won't be able to feature on the main arena until Thursday at the earliest - the fourth day of the week-long women's season-opening Brisbane International.
After former US Open champion Sloane Stephens labelled it disrespectful and dual Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova claimed it wasn't fair, Sharapova also didn't hold back.
With Brisbane International tournament director Mark Handley looking on at her post-match press conference, Sharapova said the women's stars deserved to shine on the main arena from the outset.
"You definitely recognise it and notice it (starting on outside courts), it feels like a little bit of a second-hand event," she said.
"I think on Thursday the girls go back on centre court. But it's definitely a bit of a strange strategic move.
"I think there's a lot of girls that are deserving of that centre court spot in this draw, I think there are six out of (the world's) top 10 players (in Brisbane)."
Plenty of fans have described the situation in Brisbane as "sexism", with many venting their frustrations on social media.
I get that they want to push the ATP cup but #TennisAustralia should be ashamed of their scheduling for WTA Brisbane. They’re pretty much labelling it a second level event. Casual sexism at its worst— Paul (@GameSetPaulWTA) January 5, 2020
Yep. I have free ATP Cup tickets everyday, but will be using them to get entry to grounds and watching WTA on Court 1 (which they renamed Stadium Court to try and make it look less crap a Premier WTA event wasn't using a main court early rounds)— Anthony Webb (@anthonyqld) January 5, 2020
While I love the ATP Cup I think it’s a disgrace this has happened to the @WTA players, imo they shouldn’t be allowed to do this.— Queen Venus Williams (@Venus_Fan4Ever) January 5, 2020
@Channel9 what just happened to the broadcast of the Brisbane WTA matches, why did the telecast finish for the women, yet the ATP cup is still being shown. Very disappointing at the lack of balance in showing a mix of men’s and women’s matches.— Angela kearvell (@KearvellA) January 7, 2020
are the women not exciting enough to watch @Channel9 ?no live coverage of the Brisbane International until Sunday. what a joke @TennisAustralia our world #1 shouldnt be shafted to the outside courts. the women deserve #respect & to be on Pat Rafter Arena. we want to see them play— Sarah Gosper (@GosperSarah) January 7, 2020
Imagine the drama if the men had been sent to outside courts in Brisbane— Kay Brooks (@kaybrooks41) January 7, 2020
In Brisbane at the ATP CUP, players ranked 99 and 77 are on centre court. WTA Players at the same venue, ranked World No. 1 and Top Tens are relegated to outside courts!— lin nathaniel (@nathanlinda2) January 6, 2020
Top tennis countries? Some of these guys would have to play qualifying of a challenger yet we’ve got a WTA Premier Mandatory being played at the same venue in Brisbane with 6 of the top 10 and the women are relegated to the outside courts until Thursday. Will always be in Oz.— Bryce McCarthy (@BryceMcCarthy66) January 5, 2020
Sharapova, who was on Wednesday granted a wildcard entry to the Australian Open, hoped the situation was addressed for future tournaments.
"Everyone should have a conversation about it, that's just my outside view," she said.
But Hewitt claimed the men had also been affected by the tournament clash.
"There's times this week though where we certainly haven't been able to get the practice times that we want," he said.
"I know there's meant to be certain allocation of courts for men, the men's teams as well, so I think it works both ways."