WTA calls decision by French Open officials to put women's semis on outside courts 'unfair and inappropriate'

Yahoo Sports Contributor
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The WTA blasted a decision to put the women's semifinals, including that of Amanda Anisimova, on smaller outside courts. (Getty Images)
The WTA blasted a decision to put the women's semifinals, including that of Amanda Anisimova, on smaller outside courts. (Getty Images)

Weather conditions prompted the first rainout in three years Wednesday at the French Open, forcing a reconfiguration of the traditional schedule that the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) is calling “extremely disappointing.”

The schedule was pushed back a day, with the remaining quarterfinal matches for both men and women played Thursday. That forced the women’s semifinals back one day to Friday, where they will be held on outside courts so the men’s semifinals remain on the main courts at Court Phlippe-Chatrier that day.

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WTA calls out French Open officials

The official statement from the WTA and CEO Steve Simon noted the difficulties made by the weather, but called the decision “unfair and inappropriate.”

“There’s no doubt that scheduling has been challenged by weather conditions and the WTA understands the scheduling issues presented at Roland Garros.

"We are, however, extremely disappointed by the scheduling of both women’s semifinals on outside courts. This decision is unfair and inappropriate. The four women who have played so well and made it this far have earned their right to play on the biggest stage.

"We believe other solutions were possible which would have been to the benefit of fans as well as all players.”

The matches will be played on Court Suzanne-Lenglen and Court Simonne-Mathieu.

French tennis federation cites ‘fairness’

The French tennis federation responded with a statement, via ESPN, that cited “fairness” for scheduling the semifinals on the same day and time while pushing the women outside. The statement called the move a “logical one” because scheduling all four back-to-back beginning at 12:50 p.m. could result in a “fairness issue,” seemingly for the men who would take the primetime slots.

Per the statement, via ESPN:

“If a women's semifinal was also held on Court Philippe-Chatrier, the first men's semifinal would most probably start late, with the risk that the second semifinal would not be completed. This would create fairness issues.”

Weather conditions Friday “mean that we do not wish to take any risks,” the federation wrote. Rain is expected through the early afternoon with wind gusts up to 30 mph in the forecast.

French Open director: I would want this option

French Open director Guy Forget also cited the objective of fairness and told reporters this was the better option for the women in terms of wanting rest.

"If I was [one of the women] playing in that stage today, I would rather play on a smaller court — although everyone says that Simonne-Mathieu is a magnificent court — knowing that I will have enough time to rest, at least the same of my opponent the following day, because the finals is what I'm playing for. You know, you're afraid that some players might feel that it's a lack of respect [by moving one match to a smaller court] or we are just trying to diminish — no. Ideally, when you see historically what has happened in the tournament, we try to be fair to everyone."

French tennis officials received backlash last year after banning the form-fitting catsuit worn by Serena Williams saying one must “respect the game and the place.” Williams wore it in part for health reasons after a difficult birth of her first child. The ruling was since lifted.

Who is in the French Open semis?

Amanda Anisimova, the 17-year-old American, is playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal after knocking out No. 3 Simona Halep, the 2018 French Open champion, in straight sets.

Anisimova will face Ashleigh Barty on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Johanna Kontathe first British woman in the semis since 1983 who upset Sloane Stephens, will face Marketa Vondrousova on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

Both of the women’s matches will take place at 11 a.m. in Paris (5 a.m. ET). None have won a Grand Slam title.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will meet for a 39th time, and sixth time at the French Open. Their match is scheduled for 12:50 a.m. in Paris (6:50 a.m. ET).

Novak Djokovic is closing in on tennis history as only the second man to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once for a second time. He will face Dominic Thiem in the final match scheduled for Friday.

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