'Shameful': French Open In Sexism Row Over 'unfair' Women's Semi-finals Shift To Smaller Courts

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The French Open was plunged into a sexism row on Thursday after the decision to move the Women's semi-finals away from the tournament's showpiece court was deemed "unfair”, “inappropriate" and "shameful.''

Written By Digital Desk | Mumbai | Updated On:

The French Open was plunged into a sexism row on Thursday after the decision to move the Women's semi-finals away from the tournament's showpiece court was deemed "unfair”, “inappropriate" and "shameful.''

After torrential rain washed out all of Wednesday's play, the last two women's quarter-finals were played on Thursday with the semi-finals rescheduled to Friday.

However, the semi-final between Ashleigh Barty and Amanda Anisimova will be played on Court Suzanne Lenglen while Johanna Konta's match with Marketa Vondrousova has been shifted to the smaller 5,000-seater Court Simonne-Mathieu.

The men's semis between Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic taking on Dominic Thiem, will be played on the main court, the 15,000-seat Court Philippe Chatrier as planned.

"We are extremely disappointed by the re-scheduling of both women's semi-finals on outside courts.The four women who have played so well and made it this far have earned their right to play on the biggest stage." said WTA chief executive Steve Simon.

Both women's semi-finals were originally scheduled for Thursday to be played on the rebuilt Chatrier Court with the final on Saturday. Men's semi-finals will be played on Friday and the final is set to be played on Sunday, as per the tradition.

But Wednesday's washout, which also saw two men's quarter-finals delayed by a day on Thursday, caused havoc with the schedule.

Complicating the picture further is the threat of more rain on Friday, increasing speculations of the women's final being moved to Sunday and the men's to Monday.

Tournament director Guy Forget had admitted that moving the women's semi-finals to smaller courts could be seen as controversial.

"You're afraid that some players might feel that it's a lack of respect or we are just trying to diminish it, but that is not the case. Ideally, when you see historically what has happened in the tournament, we try to be fair to everyone, `` he said.

However, France's former world number one and two-time major winner Amelie Mauresmo blasted the decision to shift the women's semi-finals.

"It is shameful for our tournament," tweeted the 49-year-old. "Everyone agrees that the match of the day is Federer/Nadal. But what message are we sending by taking the decision to put the two women's semi-finals on at 11 a.m. on the second and third courts? "No match on the centre court?", she has asked.

Mauresmo believes that the men's and women's semi-finals should be split between Chatrier and the Lenglen, which boasts of a 10,000 seat capacity.

"It's simple to open at  Lenglen and Chatrier and have the two women's matches at 1 p.m. followed by the men’s matches." said Anisimova, a 17 year old and the youngest player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Nicole Vaidisova at the 2007 Australian Open. She also claimed that she had no objections to playing on a smaller court.

"Neither of them on Chatrier? I didn't know that," said the teenager when first told that she would not be playing on the main court. Actually, I'm really happy that I get to play tomorrow as I don't have to wait a whole day, because I get really eager to want to go on the court," added the American, who is the first player born in the 2000s to get to the last-four of a major.

Barty, the highest seed (8) surviving in the tournament, said it was a shame that her maiden Slam semi-final had been relocated to Lenglen.

"Obviously we would love to play on Chatrier. For me, personally, I'm excited to be in a semi-final. It doesn't really matter which court I play on. Yes, of course we would have loved to play on Chatrier. It's a beautiful court. But in saying that, all four of us will be ready and prepared and go out there and enjoy it.," said the 23-year-old.

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