Martina Navratilova Suggests Leadership Change Needed At WTA Amid Player Revolt - UBITENNIS
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Martina Navratilova Suggests Leadership Change Needed At WTA Amid Player Revolt

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Martina Navratilova - Australian Open 2018, Legends (@RDO foto)

Martina Navratilova has become the latest figure from the world of tennis to pile pressure on the WTA after saying it will be ‘hard’ for CEO Steve Simon to stay in his role after recent criticism. 

The governing body of women’s is facing calls for change from its players after a letter was sent to them last month during the China Open. Former world No.1 Iga Swiatek said earlier this week that she and other women’s tennis players are more united than ever before in seeking improvements to the Tour. Topics of concern include prize money, maternity entitlement, injury absences, and the current rules regarding participation in mandatory events. 

On top of that, the organisation of this year’s WTA Finals has been chaotic with the host venue not being announced until September. The WTA said they only had four months to find a host city and didn’t want to enter into a long-term agreement after their previous deal with Shenzhen fell through. Cancun was chosen to stage the event but building work on the stadium wasn’t completed until the same weekend the tournament started. Players have also complained about the court conditions and now the women’s final has been delayed by 24 hours due to poor weather.

“It shouldn’t have come that late in the year, making this decision. There was a sequence of bad decisions,” 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Navratilova said on Amazon Prime.
“Ultimately, Steve Simon has been the boss for nine years and here we are. Players adjusted and they had to but to come to Cancun in the rainy season? You cannot be hoping it’s not gonna rain at a premier event for the WTA Tour. It was just a whole bunch of decisions.’
“You have to own the bad decisions you made and make some choices after that.”

Simon has dodged the media limelight in recent days and declined multiple requests for an interview with Amazon Prime. So far, the only time there has been word from him is via letters he wrote to players that have been leaked to the media or brief statements. 

As for Simon’s future as the head of women’s tennis, Navratilova believes his time might be up amid the ongoing fallout. The former world No.1 says she would like to see a woman be given the job next. 

“Maybe it’s time for new leadership,” she commented. “For me personally, this being a woman’s association and being involved for such a long time from the beginning, and we’ve only had three women at the head of it. I think it’s time.’
“Hopefully, when we get a new leader, it’s a woman. There are plenty of them that are qualified for the job. It’s gonna be hard for Steve to stay in the job because everything is pointing the other way.”

It is unclear if Simon will conduct any public press duties before the WTA Finals ends on Monday. 

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Roland Garros 2024: Naomi Osaka Edges Past Bronzetti In Opening Round Test

Naomi Osaka stumbled past Lucia Bronzetti to set up a potential second round clash with Iga Swiatek.

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Naomi Osaka began her Roland Garros campaign with a 6-1 4-6 7-5 victory over Lucia Bronzetti.

The multiple-time Grand Slam champion was making her first appearance at Roland Garros since 2022 and was bidding to secure her eighth victory of her career at the event.

It was a fast start from the world number 134 who broke twice in the opening set on her way to a 6-1 set.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-NhGfGlXI4

There was accurate and aggressive counter-attacking tennis from Osaka who took advantage of some cheap unforced errors from Bronzetti.

In the second set, there was more stable and convincing serving from the Italian as Osaka had minimal opportunities to secure the break.

A big opportunity did present itself to Osaka in the seventh game as she found the angles to force errors from Bronzetti, creating two break points.

That big opportunity was wasted as Bronzetti continued to extend the rallies and tested Osaka’s stamina.

The move paid off for Bronzetti as she broke in the tenth game, taking advantage of some inconsistent serving from Osaka with the Italian converting her second set point.

In the final set it looked like Osaka was going to run away with the match as she secured an early double break lead as she went 4-0 ahead.

But once again Osaka took her foot off the gas with Bronzetti gaining the two breaks back and winning four games on the bounce.

Too many tactical errors nearly cost Osaka but the former Australian Open and US Open champion managed to notch up her first Grand Slam win for two years by claiming the last two games.

Now Osaka could face world number one and defending champion Iga Swiatek in the second round should the Pole get past Leolia Jeanjean.

So far on day one Dayana Yastremska came from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6 6-3 6-3 while Marie Bouzkova knocked out 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-2 6-4.

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Roland Garros 2024: ‘Proud’ Iga Swiatek Seeks Consistent Improvement

Iga Swiatek continues to find improvement despite her dominance ahead of her Roland Garros opener.

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Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Iga Swiatek had admitted she is ‘proud’ of her clay court season but is seeking consistent improvement over the rest of the season.

The world number one is aiming for a third consecutive Roland Garros title and heads into Paris in dominant form.

Titles in Madrid and Rome with two contrasting wins over Aryna Sabalenka means she is the overwhelming favourite heading into the fortnight.

Speaking ahead of her opening match Swiatek spoke about how she is a better tennis player from 2022 and how proud she is of her clay court season so far, “I think I’m a better player because I just grew and I worked hard during the past two years,” Swiatek explained in her press conference.

“I feel like I’m progressing, so I guess I should be a better tennis player. Comparing the results, or my feelings, two years ago it was all kind of new for me, and I think I won so many matches also because nobody really expected it.

“When the streak started, I wasn’t even second in the rankings, so I think other players were also unprepared maybe for my game sometimes. Now it’s different. Now they are prepared, and I feel like I keep having a target on my back, because I’m No. 1. So I think actually I’m more proud of what’s happening right now and winning all these titles this year already has shown that we are going on the right path.”

Despite her recent dominance, Swiatek isn’t resting on her laurels as she continues to seek improvement.

The Pole has been working on several areas on her game including the serve as she has become a more aggressive player over the last couple of years.

Swiatek spoke on the changes she has made with her coach as she seeks more consistent improvement, “Changing the technique, I think it allowed me to serve faster. We worked on my placement as well, so it got better for sure. I feel like I have more options when I’m serving,” Swiatek told the Roland Garros website.

“As you could see in Rome, for example, I had many situations when I was a break point down, and I was able to kind of save the game with my first serve. So this tournament showed that we are going in the right direction. Next goal is to keep my serve at a consistent level throughout the whole season. We’ll see how that’s going to go.

“But I think overall my coach from the beginning had a great idea about my serve. The other thing is me implementing it, so we are working hard for the movement to be smooth and to get muscle memory, so even under the biggest pressure and stress, I’m going to be serving the same way.”

Swiatek will begin her campaign against qualifier Leolia Jeanjean in her opening round match on Monday with potentially Naomi Osaka awaiting in round two.

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Roland Garros 2024: Coco Gauff Preparing For Uncomfortable Changes In Paris

Coco Gauff is ready to make uncomfortable changes to her game ahead of Roland Garros.

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Coco Gauff has said that she is ready to make uncomfortable changes to her game as she prepares for Roland Garros.

The American is a former finalist having reached the final in 2022 but has struggled with her game throughout the clay court season.

However there was hope in Rome as she did reach the semi-finals in Italy before losing comfortably to Iga Swiatek in the last four.

Speaking ahead of the start of the tournament Gauff is confident of a good run in Paris after an encouraging display in Italy, “I have been here for a couple days now, and I feel like I have been preparing great,” the American was quoted by Reuters as saying on media day.

“Had a good tournament in Rome, so I’m excited, hope I can have good vibes here. Last week I felt like from the start of the week till the end of the week I improved a lot. It gave me a lot of confidence for this tournament.”

Despite a recent poor run of form, Gauff has had an incredible last 12 months and is looking to reach a third consecutive Grand Slam semi-final.

However Gauff would like to be more competitive when facing her rivals at the big events which is something that hasn’t improved since she won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open.

Now the 20 year-old has admitted that she will have to make some uncomfortable changes to her game as she prepares for her Roland Garros campaign, “I feel like, overall, if I want to be the player that I want to become, I have to be uncomfortable and make changes to my game, not just to my serve, but other things, as well,” Gauff explained.

“I have been trying to improve it with every tournament, from the start of the clay to Rome. My last match it was a lot better in terms of percentage and the double faults. I think I’m confident.

“I feel like it’s getting better but it’s obviously a shot that is tough to change because when you’re tight you revert back to what you know works. Sometimes it’s tough to push yourself to do the uncomfortable things which you know in the long term are better for you.”

Gauff will begin her campaign against a qualifier on Monday.

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