French Open caught in sexism storm amid ugly tennis furore

·4-min read
Tennis WTA World No.1 Iga Swiatek (pictured left) reacts during the French Open and (pictured right) Novak Djokovic after a point.
The tennis community has questioned why the women have only been handed one out of 10 night matches at the French Open. (Getty Images)

The French Open has been called out over their scheduling of night matches with only one women's match taking place at the prime time slot so far at the grand slam.

For the 10 singles matches scheduled for the night time slot on Court Phillipe Chatrier, only one of them was a women's clash between Alize Cornet and Jelena Ostapenko.

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The latest match will be the clash between 13-time French Open champion Rafa Nadal and World No.1 Novak Djokovic.

However, the scheduling has raised eyebrows within the tennis community.

The night session, for which Amazon Prime has exclusive broadcasting rights in France, starts at 9pm local time and was introduced for the first time at the 2021 edition of the clay-court major.

Former tennis star Barbara Schett said the women would certainly be talking about the disparity at the French Open.

“I think the women are definitely talking about the night sessions and I’m sure it’ll come up in the players’ meetings as well, that women want to have more night sessions – not only one out of 10,” Schett told Eurosport.

Novak Djokovic (pictured left) and Rafael Nadal (pictured right) shake hands at the French Open.
Novak Djokovic (pictured left) and Rafael Nadal (pictured right) will play the latest night match on Court Philippe-Chatrier at the French Open. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

"This will be addressed by the WTA, I’m sure some of the players or the head of the WTA will speak to Roland-Garros and say ‘okay, we would like to have a little more equality’ – so it’s definitely a topic among the players. "

Schett admitted that a tennis director may have reservations about putting a single women's match at night because if it was too short, the paying ticket holder might become dissuaded to attend again.

But, the former tennis star said there could be back-to-back matches for women or even a doubles match to follow.

Schett wasn't the only one to call out the organisers for the scheduling.

BBC tennis commentator David Law weighed-in on the controversy and said something needed to change.

Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic in night time drama

The big talking point leading into Nadal and Djokovic's 59th clash was whether the quarter-final would take place during the day or night session.

While it is clear Nadal has always preferred the day time, with the humidity and conditions favouring his heavy top spin, Djokovic has also claimed he prefers the day session.

"Today I'd rather play day than playing 9pm. Conditions are different today. It's colder, slower," he said.

"I historically played very well and won a lot of matches under the lights on different slams, particularly in Australia."

"We do have requests, but those requests are not always accepted."

However, teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz claimed it would be unfair if Nadal continued to benefit from favourable scheduling.

"Honestly, it wouldn't seem fair to me. I've already played twice in the evening," the 19-year-old said.

"I'm not saying that it bothers me to play in the evening, but obviously I have less recovery time, if I finish very late all the time.

"When we finish at midnight, with all that comes with it - dinner, physio, trying to come down in terms of adrenaline - it's harder to recover.

"If I play a third time in the evening, honestly it seems unfair to me."

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