Star unloads on Roland Garros over ‘equality’ row

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has criticised Roland Garros organisers over what she describes as an equality problem at the tournament, following her fourth-round exit in Paris.

The former world number one was ousted by Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, bringing to an end her best run at Roland Garros since she reached the semi-finals in 2013.

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But things took an unexpected turn in her press-conference when she was prompted over the scheduling of night sessions, with six of the seven so far featuring men’s matches.

“What concerns me is when somebody from French Federation is continually trying to say there is equality, and only pointing out to prize money, which is true,” said Azarenka.

“Everything else, I wouldn’t even agree for a little with that. And that’s disappointing.”

The French Tennis Federation are currently engaged in a three-year partnership with Amazon Prime Video that runs until 2023, meaning the day’s so-called top match is reserved for primetime audiences.

But Azarenka took umbrage with the apparent imbalance between men’s and women’s matches selected for the late timeslot.

That’s an issue that hasn’t been helped by the early exit of Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka, and the absence of an injured Simona Halep.

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“I think there is enough examples over the years where we’ve heard remarks towards women, where we’ve seen two women’s semi-final matches playing on the outside courts,” She said.

“I think sometimes you need to hold some people accountable for some of those things and not continuously point out to the obvious of prize money.

“I just think that in general sometimes things here are made a bit too complicated.

“It’s just honestly a bit frustrating every time you’re trying to deal with the organisation here, it’s becoming ‘pas possible’. Everything you hear is ‘pas possible’.”

It’s the second tiff in as many years between Azarenka and Roland Garros.

Last year Azarenka was left fuming at being left to “sit like a duck”, walking off court after complaining that it was “too cold” to play – as the 2020 tournament was delayed to late September due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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