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Anger at French Open amid claim female players treated like 'second class citizens'

Tennis pioneer Billie Jean-King has waded into the tournament’s scheduling row.

Billie Jean King and Amelie Mauresmo pose for pictures during the day twelve of the French Open.
Billie Jean King and Amelie Mauresmo pose for pictures during the day twelve of the French Open.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

TENNIS PIONEER Billie Jean-King waded into the French Open scheduling row on Saturday by claiming women players are treated like “second class citizens”.

Roland Garros organisers came under fire for putting nine men’s matches in 10 night sessions this year.

Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said men’s matches were more appealing, comments from which she eventually walked back on.

“You’ve got to put them when it’s prime time, and you have got to figure it out and you want to give equal opportunity to both genders,” said US legend King, a founder of the WTA and vocal advocate for women’s rights.

“They should have the same amount of women’s matches as they do men’s. Real easy. Right now we are playing two out of three sets. I think the men should change that.

“If they keep treating us like second-class citizens we will stay second-class citizens. You want to make everyone feel important. We should have more matches, but I think Amelie will take care of that next year. Knowing her, she’s a winner.”

King, speaking 50 years after her French Open win allowed her to complete a career Grand Slam, said the key to better scheduling is for men to play best-of-three sets at the Slams rather than best-of-five.

“I have been saying forever we should only play two out of three sets. As the players get older, I want them to be able to play,” said the American.

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“Nadal is one — do you want him to stop? I never want him to stop. They create such a following in our sport. I want to make it possible for them to win. I think three-out-of-five, you can lose by attrition. If you’re older, it’s harder. I’m big on quality over quantity.”

– © AFP 2022

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