Amélie Mauresmo: Less exciting women’s tennis matches

Amélie Mauresmo: Less exciting women’s tennis matches

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PARIS — For 30 weeks in 2006, Frenchwoman Amélie Mauresmo was ranked world No. 1, champion of the Australian Open and Wimbledon that year.

But in her first year as tournament director at Roland Garros, Mauresmo did not prove to be the champion of women’s tennis that many expected.

During a press conference at Roland-Garros on Wednesday morning, Mauresmo, 42, defended his decision to schedule only one women’s match (compared to nine for the men) for the night sessions which are unprecedented this year, saying that she found women’s tennis currently less appealing and less appealing than men’s.

“In this era that we’re in right now, I don’t feel – and as a woman, a former women’s player, I don’t feel wrong or unfair to say that right now you have more attraction , more attractiveness – can you say that? Appeal? – for men’s matches,” said Mauresmo when asked about the gender imbalance in the night match schedule on Philippe-Chatrier court.

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Mauresmo, who retired from the professional circuit in 2009, went on to explain that when she was planning the daily program for the 15-day Grand Slam event, she was looking for women’s matches almost every day which she said, had star power and appealed for tickets. buyers and distributors.

“I admit it was difficult,” Mauresmo said.

“My focus was when I was doing the schedule every day to try to see, and from the early rounds, from the first round, when the draw came out, to try to see what game in the women’s draw can I get there. put, honestly,” she said. “The confrontation or the star that I could put there. You know, you have all these settings.

The only women’s match chosen by Mauresmo for the night session, which is due to start at 8:45 p.m. local time, was a second-round clash between French veteran Alizé Cornet and 2017 Roland-Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

“It was difficult for more than one night to find, as you say, the match of the day,” Mauresmo said. “When you have that, it’s interesting, because like I said, the fact that it’s a night session of a game right now is tough about it. It’s tough.”

Mauresmo was appointed director of Roland Garros by the French Tennis Federation in December 2021. Her contract runs until the 2024 French Open.

She is the second woman to take the reins of one of the sport’s four Grand Slams. The US Open named Stacey Allaster its first female Tournament Director in June 2020. Mauresmo also expanded the role of women in tennis as coach of former No. 1 Andy Murray for a time.

The issue of this year’s French Open schedule has become a major point of contention for players and fans alike.

Tuesday’s highly anticipated quarter-final between 13-time French Open champion and top-ranked defending champion Novak Djokovic didn’t start until 9 p.m. in Paris. It was his scheduled start time, to meet broadcaster demands, rather than an unscripted, delayed start forced by late prior matches.

With the men’s Grand Slam matches played to the best of five sets, they can easily last over four hours, much like Nadal’s four-set victory, which he ended in a tiebreaker after four hours and 12 minutes.

Women’s tennis has seen an exodus of big names over the past 12 months.

Serena Williams, 23-time Grand Slam champion, has not competed in 11 months, not since her first-round defeat at Wimbledon last year. Now 40, she has yet to announce her plans for her return to the game.

In March, top-ranked three-time Grand Slam champion Ashleigh Barty shocked the sport with her abrupt retirement, aged 25, just months after winning the Australian Open.

Mauresmo’s 16-year professional career (1993-2009) overlapped with that of many of women’s football’s most marketable stars of recent decades, including Venus and Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

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