It should have been the most exciting day at Wimbledon so far, but yesterday’s ‘Manic Monday’ – which saw every remaining player in the Wimbledon singles draw (16 men and 16 women) in action – was overshadowed by another outcry against the ‘sexist’ scheduling of the tournament.
Six matches were played on Centre Court and No 1 Court during the day. Of these matches on the tournament’s ‘show courts’, only 2 were scheduled from the women’s draw. Venus Williams defeated Ana Konjuh in straight sets on Centre Court, whilst Johanna Konta celebrated victory against Caroline Garcia on No 1 Court.
Meanwhile, top seed and world number one Angelique Kerber quietly crashed out of the tournament at the hands of 2015 finalist Garbine Muguruza on No 2 Court, whilst Jelena Ostapenko, who played in front of almost 15,000 spectators in the final of the French Open last month, beat world number 4 Elena Svitolina on No 12 Court in front of just over 1,000 spectators.
No male top seed has played on any court other than Centre Court or No 1 Court this century. “To be honest, I was really surprised that I was playing on No 2 Court,” said Kerber following her sensational defeat by Muguruza. Kerber, who has won two Grand Slam tournaments added, “I think we both played a good match which was at a very high level. And I was actually really looking forward to playing on one of the two big courts.”
During the first 7 days of play at Wimbledon, 14 matches on Centre Court have been played by men, and only 8 by women. “This is something that we have talked about at Wimbledon for the last 10 years. It’s been the same for 10 years straight,” said Caroline Wozniacki, who lost to Coco Vandeweghe on No 3 Court. “I think the other Grand Slams are more equal, positioning of men’s and women’s matches, whereas here there’s always two men’s and one women’s on Centre Court. Most days, as well, there’s more men’s matches on Court 1, too.”
Andy Murray, who beat Benoit Paire in straight sets on Centre Court, echoed the outrage of the female players. “We need to find a way of allowing for an equal split of the men’s and women’s matches across the tournament,” he commented, arguing that four matches should be played on Centre Court and No 1 Court each day, rather than three.
“It would be much better if there was four matches,” he suggested. “And then you have the two men’s and the two women’s, obviously.”
Responding to the outcry, Richard Lewis, chief executive of All England Club, claimed, “It is not about male or female, in the end it is about which matches you feel the public and broadcasters most want to see.”