Victoria Azarenka Calls Out French Open Over Gender Equality, Frustration With Organisers - UBITENNIS
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Victoria Azarenka Calls Out French Open Over Gender Equality, Frustration With Organisers

Following her fourth round exit from Roland Garros, Azarenka didn’t mince her words when speaking about the French Tennis Federation and their premier tournament.

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Two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka has called out the French Tennis Federation (FFT) over their management of gender equality issues, as well as some of the services they provide to players.

 

The world No.16 says there needs to be accountability within the federation in order to tackle some of the issues. Speaking to reporters following her fourth round loss, the Belarusian was questioned about the tournament night sessions which has mainly featured men’s matches. Out of the first six to be held at the tournament, the only women’s match involved Serena Williams which was last Monday.

“What concerns me is when somebody from French Federation is continually trying to say there is equality, and only pointing out to prize money, which is true. Everything else, I wouldn’t even agree for a little with that. And that’s disappointing,” Azarenka said during her press conference.

Continuing to voice her frustration, the 31-year-old was asked how she would have felt if she had played a night session. Something that has been dubbed as the ‘match of the day’ but most are sessions are taking place behind closed doors due to the curfew.

“I will answer that whenever I am asked if I would like to play a night session or not. Honestly, that would be already a step forward,” she replied.

2021 Night session matches
Monday: Williams Vs Begu (WTA)
Tuesday: Djokovic Vs Sandgren (ATP)
Wednesday: Medvedev Vs Paul (ATP)
Thursday: Nadal Vs Gasquet (ATP)
Friday: Tsitsipas Vs Isner (ATP)
Saturday: Federer Vs Koepfer (ATP)
Sunday: Zverev Vs Nishikori (ATP)

Azarenka, who has played on the Tour for 15 years, says there have been enough examples in the past which support her concerns regarding fairness among the genders at the Grand Slam. She made reference to the decision not to schedule both of the women’s semi-finals matches in the Philippe Chatrier Court back in 2019. During that year the schedule was impacted by poor weather conditions.

“I think there are enough examples over the years where we have heard remarks towards women, where we have seen two women’s matches being played on the outside courts. If you follow tennis, you know what I’m talking about,” Azarenka explained.
“There are no surprises that I can reveal here. But I think sometimes we need to hold some people accountable for some of those things and not continuously point out the obvious of prize money.”

The former world No.1 states that her criticism of the event is in no way linked to her defeat on Sunday. In fact, she had recently tweeted on social media about her frustration about ‘quite simple situations’ being made difficult. At the time she made no reference as to who or what she was talking about.

However, Azarenka has now confirmed that her comment is linked to the French Open as she points out one incident which happened to her.

“Honestly it is a bit frustrating every time when you are trying to deal with the organisation here. It’s becoming pas possible (impossible in French) everything that you hear is pas possible,’ she said.
“When you’re coming to warm up before the match, the court is completely wet where it’s kind of dangerous to move. I just have a genuine question, Why? Why can it not be ready when people know somebody is coming to practice, players are going to warm up? I don’t understand why simple things like this are not in place.”

The tennis star has insisted that she is not trying to ‘point fingers’ but believes issues such as the ones she has raised should be addressed my thoroughly. She has called for both male and female players to unite in order to tackle any problems that may arise when dealing with tournaments or their federations.

“I would like to have players’ voices heard more and I would like players to take responsibility as well for our part of the job and helping and working together with organizations. I think that’s where it can work best, when we work together and find solutions. That’s really my, I would say, ideal view and ideal approach.” Azarenka concluded.

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Venus Williams Explains Met Gala Photo With Maria Sharapova

The former world No.1 says she and her sister Serena have ‘respect and love’ for Sharapova.

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Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams at the 20201 Met Gala (image via Instagram)

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams says there are no hard feelings between her, her sister Serena and Maria Sharapova after the trio took a photo together at the Met Gala.

 

The former world No.1s was seen smiling and laughing together at the New York fundraising event with both of the Williams sisters uploading a photo of them all on their Instagram story. Prompting surprise from some fans considering the at times icy rivalry between Serena and Sharapova that dates back to the 2004 Wimbledon Championships.

In her 2017 autobiography, Unstoppable: My Life So Far, Sharapova mentioned Serena’s name more than 100 times. She says the American hated her for beating her at Wimbledon that year and that the two were ‘not friends.’

“What I heard when I came in to the locker room was Serena Williams bawling,” Sharapova wrote.
“Guttural sobs. I got out as quickly as I could, but she knew I was there.
“I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds … I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment.
“But mostly I think she hated me for hearing her cry. She’s never forgiven me for it.”

Responding to the claims, Serena hit back at the book in 2018 by describing it as ‘hearsay’ and said she never had any ‘negative feelings’ towards Sharapova. The two clashed on the Tour no fewer than 22 times with Serena winning 20 of those meetings.

“So I don’t have any negative feelings towards her, which again, was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book,” Williams commented back in 2018. “So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught. One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up.”

Three years later and it now seems that all parties have put their disagreements behind them. At the Met Gala they were seen getting on pretty well. Besides posing for a photo together, they were also seen together in the bathroom at the event. A photo taken by pop star Anitta and rapper Saweetie which showed them in the background.

Speaking about the event for the first time, 41-year-old Williams said she wishes Sharapova was still playing before adding that they still ‘respect and love’ each other.

“First of all, Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before,” the 41-year-old explained on Instagram.
“We were like, ‘Damn, I wish Maria was still playing.’
“And we saw her, and we both told her separately, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just talking about you yesterday, we wish you were still on tour.’
“We were so happy to see each other. There was hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo.
“So the backstory is that even though us players compete really hard of the court for years, we still respect and love each other, and love Maria
.”

Williams, Serena and Sharapova have won a total of 35 Grand Slam singles titles between them.

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Belinda Bencic cruises past Zarina Diyas to reach the quarter final in Luxemburg

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This year’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic cruised past Zarina Diyas 6-1 6-3 to reach the quarter final at the WTA Tournament in Luxemburg 

 

Bencic broke three times and converted her second set point to win the first set 6-1. Diyas earned her first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Bencic broke broke straight back in the fourth game and sealed the second set 6-3 with another break in the sixth game. 

The Swiss player sealed the second set on her second match point. 

Bencic set up a match against Liudmila Samsonova, who beat the Swiss player in the Berlin final last June. Former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko beat Arianne Hartono 6-2 4-6 6-1. Hartono started the first set with a break in the opening game. Ostapenko broke straight back on the second game and earned two breaks in the sixth and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. Both Hartono and Ostapenko won a service game at love. Hartono broke serve at 2-2 and raced out to 4-2. The Dutch player hit some winners and broke Ostapenko at 4-3. Ostapenko broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to win the third set 6-1. 

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Emma Raducanu Launches Own Weibo Account With Viral Video

In her first video, the teenage sensation promised to play in China next year.

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Emma Raducanu reacts after winning a Women's Singles semifinal match at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Sep. 9, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu is gaining a rapidly growing fan base in China with her first video on the social media account Weibo surpassing one million views in less than two days.

 

The 18-year-old has become one of the most talked about athletes in the world of tennis following her unprecedented run to the US Open title. At the Grand Slam she didn’t drop a single set in 10 matches played to become the first qualifier in history to ever win a major title. Even more remarkable was the fact Raducanu was playing in a Grand Slam main draw for only the second time in her career.

In her native UK bookmakers are already tipping the youngster as a strong contender to win this year’s prestigious BBC Sports personality of the Year award. Although it isn’t just Britain where she is proving to be a hit. Raducanu was actually born in Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese mother who both work in the finance section. The family moved to the UK when Raducanu was two-years-old.

“My mum comes from a Chinese background. They have very good self-belief. It’s not necessarily about telling everyone how good you are, but it’s about believing it within yourself. I really respect that about the culture,” she said.
“She’s always instilled a lot of discipline and respect for other people into me, so I think that having parents like I do, they always push me, they have high expectations so I’ve always tried to live up to that. And I just hope I did them proud this week and I’m going to keep trying to go, keep going.”

Shortly after her US Open win, the world No.23 delivered a message in mandarin which was posted on the tournament’s Weibo account. SportsPro Media reports that the video generated more than 11 million impressions.

Now Raducanu has launched her own Weibo account with a video message to her fans. Shine.cn, which is a website powered by Chinese newspaper Shanghai Daily, said that the British player has promised to play in the country next year. This season’s Asian swing has been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Shine also said she spoke with a slight ‘accent from northeast China’ where her mother is from.

According to the latest view count, the video has been watched more than 1.22 million times since it was published. The view count may look impressive but it is by no means a one off. The Guardian newspaper recently reported that two hashtags related to Raducanu on Weibo have been viewed at least 200M times each as a result of her US Open win. These hashtags were ‘18-year-old ethnic Chinese young player wins US open championship‘ and ‘Raducanu.’

Despite her relative inexperience on the Tour, many are tipping Raducanu to become one of the most marketable athletes in the world. Her ability to interact with the Chinese market will play a significant role in those considering the country has invested millions into the sport and hosts a series of prestigious women’s events. However, in the immediate future the teenager says her focus is on the tennis.

“I have a few days’ rest and recovery – I think needed after the last seven weeks,” she told CNBC’s Closing Bell earlier this week.
“But then I am straight back to training and hungry to get better and come back out and play some more tournaments.”

Besides Weibo, Raducanu also has over 583,000 followers on Twitter, 1.9M Instagram followers and 63,000 followers on her official Facebook page.

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