Madrid Open Breaks Their Silence Following Mounting Criticism Over Sexism Row - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Breaks Their Silence Following Mounting Criticism Over Sexism Row

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Image via Madrid Open Twitter

The chief executive of the Madrid Open has admitted that his tournament’s decision to prevent all four women’s doubles finalists from talking during the trophy presentation was ‘unacceptable.’ 

Organizers of the event in Madrid were heavily criticized over their management of the final which saw Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia beat Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff 6-1 6-4 on Sunday. To the surprise of many, all four players were not allowed to speak during the trophy ceremony. Something which was allowed in the finals of both singles events, as well as the men’s doubles tournament this year.

Afterwards, the event was blasted by players for seemingly silencing female players. Earlier this week in Rome, Pegula told reporters that she “had a feeling something would happen” following tension behind the scenes. Although she was still surprised. 

“Did I think we were not going to be able to speak? No. I’ve never heard of that, like, in my life,” Pegula said. “Even in a $10K challenger final you would speak. I don’t know what century everyone was living in when they made that decision or how they actually had a conversation and decided: ‘Wow, this is a great decision we’re going to do and there’s going to be no backlash against this.’”

Meanwhile, Gauff said the motion of trying to silence players was a dangerous precedent and tournaments should be able to handle criticism. World No.7 Ons Jabeur described the move as ‘unacceptable’ and Victoria Azarenka voiced her frustration on social media. 

The Madrid Open had been reluctant to comment on the situation after refusing requests from multiple news outlets. However, they broke their silence on Wednesday with tournament chief executive Gerard Tsobanian issuing a statement confirming that an apology has been issued to all of those involved. 

“Not giving our women’s doubles finalists the chance to address their fans at the end of the match was unacceptable and we have apologized directly to Victoria, Beatriz, Coco and Jessica,” he said.
“We are working internally and with the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) to review our protocols and are committed to improving our process moving forward. We made a mistake and this will not ever happen again.”

This year’s Madrid Open has been marred by allegations of sexism. Besides the women’s doubles incident, some criticized the uniform ball girls wore which was crop tops and short skirts. The skirts were replaced by three-quarter-length trousers for the finals. 

“It’s a feminized way of treating girls versus guys who don’t dress like that,” Pilar Calvo, spokesperson for The Association for Women in Professional Sports, told Spanish outlet Público.
“In the end, it is a form of sexist violence that is so widespread because people don’t even notice it.”

Some also used the comparisons of the birthday cakes Aryna Sabalenka and Carlos Alcaraz received during the tournament as a symbol of how the different genders are treated. Alcaraz, who is Spanish and the reigning US Open champion, received a significantly bigger cake. Tournament director Feliciano Lopez later commented that he was ‘surprised’ by the criticism before arguing that Alcaraz had just reached the final and he was the home favourite. 

The Madrid Open is the most prestigious tennis tournament held in Spain and is classed as an ATP 1000 event for men and as a WTA 1000 for women. It is part of IMG’s sports portfolio. Neither IMG nor the WTA have commented on this matter. 

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World No.634 Laura Samson Reaches First WTA Quarter-Final At 16

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Laura Samon - image via itftennis.com/ photo credi: Manuel Queimadelos

Laura Samson has become the first player born in 2008 to reach the quarter-finals of a WTA event after producing a surprise win on Tuesday. 

The 16-year-old wildcard stunned second seed Katerina Siniakova 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, in the second round at the Prague Open. Her triumph occurred a day after she dropped just two games against Tara Wurth in her opening match. This week is Samson’s Tour debut after playing 10 events on the lower-level ITF circuit. 

“I’m extremely surprised,” she said during her on-court interview after beating Siniakova. “I didn’t go into it as favorite. I’m so proud of myself and I hope I will continue to play like this. As I was going into the second set I thought, ‘I have nothing to lose, I didn’t play good in the first set.’ I’m not really sure when [I thought I could win], I just believed myself in the third set.” 

Samson is the latest Czech player to break through following a sucessful junior career. Last year she won the Wimbledon girls’ doubles title and was runner-up in the French Open singles tournament in June. She is currently No.3 in the ITF junior rankings but has been ranked as high as No.1. 

Earlier this year, Samson decided to change her name on the Tour by dropping the last three letters (ova). The reason why she did so was to avoid getting confused with another player. 

“I first noticed it last year, there was a problem that I was getting strings (the) of Lyudmila Samsonova,” she told tenisovysvet.cz.

“I also talked about it with her and, for example, according to the schedule, she also sometimes thought she was playing, but it was me,” 

“I would have liked the ending -ová, but unfortunately it turned out like this.”

The teenager will next take on world No.248 Oksana Selekhmeteva with the winner of that match progressing to their first WTA semi-final.  21-year-old Selekhmeteva is a former top 10 junior player who came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw. She is a two-time junior Grand Slam champion in doubles. 

There are five seeds remaining in the tournament, including top seed Linda Nosková who will play Germany’s Ella Seidel in her next match. 

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Alex De Minaur Overcomes Injury To Fulfil Olympic Dream

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ASlex de Minaur - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Alex de Minaur says it is a ‘dream come true’ for him to represent Australia in the Olympic Games after missing the event three years ago.

The world No.6 had been in a race against time to be fit for the Olympic tennis event after suffering an agonising injury setback at Wimbledon earlier this month. At the All England Club de Minaur reached the quarter-final stage for the first time and was set to take on Novak Djokovic. However, he was forced to withdraw from the match after tearing the fibre cartilage in his hip region after suffering a ‘freak’ injury. At the time of the announcement, it was estimated that he would be sidelined from the Tour for three to six weeks. 

However, the 25-year-old appears to have recovered fairly quickly in time for Paris with the tennis tournament starting on Saturday. It will be de Minaur’s debut in the Olympics after he was forced to pull out of the Tokyo Games due to a positive COVID-19 test. 

“To finally be able to represent Australia in the Olympics is a dream come true,” he wrote on Instagram on Tuesday morning.

“I’m very passionate when I play for my country and wear the green and gold, so this is another one of those moments. 

“I’m extremely excited to lace up for Paris 2024.”

De Minaur is bidding to become the first male player from his country to win an Olympic medal in the singles event. He has already won two ATP titles this year in Alcapulco and s-Hertogenbosch. Since the start of January, he has won five out of 11 meetings against top 10 players. 

“It’s really great news – we’re actually expecting Alex to arrive in the village ahead of the official draw (on Thursday) and we know he’s been working with his rehab team quite extensively since the conclusion of Wimbledon,” Australian chef de mission Anna Meares told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

“He’s hungry to be here, he wants to be a part of this team and we will offer as much support as we can in that process.

“He’s coming – we will wait to see that process. He still has time … injury can be a really stressful thing for an athlete and the more you rush it, the more problems you can potentially cause.

“We’re leaving it in the hands of Alex and his rehabilitation team … it will be a decision purely by them.” 

De Minaur is one of five Australian men playing in the Paris Olympics. The others are Alexei Popyrin, Matthew Ebden, John Peers and Rinky Hijikata. 

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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