The Madrid Open is at the center of a fresh sexism row, just days after a WTA tour event was criticized for using models ‘Ball girls' dressed in “feminine” outfits, Players involved in Sunday's women's doubles final – including Coco Gauff and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka – were denied the opportunity to address the crowd.
The tournament has not explained its reasoning for silencing the players, but the censorship is believed to be linked to Iga Swiatek's runner-up speech on Saturday, during which the current world No. 1 complained about the late-night schedule of his semifinal Was.
It was only the latest flare-up in an incident that has drawn repeated criticism for unequal treatment of men and women – including complaints from Pilar Calvino, spokeswoman for the Spanish Association for Women in Professionals, about the ball girls' “feminine” outfits. Play.
The silencing of the doubles players on Sunday came with a brief message from Gauff – who tweeted “not given a chance to speak after the final today” – and another nod from Azarenka, who said “Leo is hard to explain”. [her six-year-old son] That mummy can't say hello to him at the trophy ceremony.”
World number seven Ons Jabeur described the events as “sad and unacceptable”:
Bizarrely, Azarenka had already had a social-media run-in with tournament director Feliciano López about the birthday cake.
Last Friday was the birthday of both eventual singles champions — Carlos Alcaraz, 20, and Aryna Sabalenka, 25. Told that Alcaraj's cake was at least four times bigger and much bigger. It was also presented to him at Campo Manolo Santana, the main stadium of Madrid's Caja mágica complex – while Sabalenka welcomed him backstage.
In response to Azarenka's tweet pointing out the discrepancy, López replied defensively that “I am surprised by this reaction after this gesture! 1. Carlos had recently won his match to reach the final. 2 .He was playing on Center Court 3.The tournament is played in Spain even though it is an international competition.
Lopez, a former French Open doubles champion, was later caught looking daggers at Swiatek after she told fans during Saturday's presentation that “playing at 1 a.m. is not fun” (after her semifinal win over Veronika Kudermatova). reference to end with).
While the absence of speeches at Sunday's women's doubles presentation remains officially unclear, it appears the Madrid Open was trying to dissuade Azarenka – who is reliably outspoken – from hurling any further criticism at the organisers.
If so, the move may have backfired by drawing even more attention to the controversies surrounding the incident.
To return to ‘Ball Girls', those chosen for the final wore less revealing outfits after Calvino complained that they were expected to wear crop tops and pleated skirts while ball boys appeared in shorts. “It's a way of feminizing girls in relation to boys who don't wear the same clothes,” Calvino told the online newspaper Público. “Ultimately, it is a form of sexist violence that is so pervasive that people don't even notice it.”
It is not the first time that Madrid's ball girls have attracted attention. in 2004, tournament hired model for jobThis prompted Andre Agassi to admit that “concentrating on the ball was difficult, to say the least”.
The model-only policy was changed after Soledad Murillo, the Secretary of State for Equality, suggested that it “promotes clear discrimination against women who appear as simple objects of decoration and entertainment”. Let's give”.
The Mutua Madrid Open is one of the four Mandatory 1000 tournaments, which constitute the highest category on the WTA Tour, along with Indian Wells, Miami and Beijing. It pays equal prize money to men and women, but only because the WTA contributes a hefty amount to equalize the fees. Super-agency IMG completed a buyout of the event last year for a nine-figure sum.
Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph for 1 month for free, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.