By Nidhi Kinhal
At Wimbledon, sexism is served even while allotting courts to matches. On Monday, Andy Murray and Roger Federer played on the 15,000-seater Centre Court, and Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic’s match took place at Court One. All the men’s and women’s last 16-matches were played on the same day, and most women’s matches were played on outside courts.
Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza played on the 4,000-seater Court Two despite it being a match between two grand slam champions. And later, a match between former world number one Victoria Azarenka and world number two Simona Halep. Only Venus Williams, former champion, played on the Centre Court. French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and world number four Elina Svitolina were staged on Court Twelve.
What’s more repulsive than the arrangement is the organisers’ defense of it. Richard Lewis, the chief executive of All England Club, said that the nature of the unique day would not allow big name players to grab main courts. “You’ve got four of the all-time great male players: Rafa, Roger, Novak and Andy. You’re left with some difficult choices,” he commented. Oh, sure. The “all-time great male players” still predominate his worries. “We absolutely respect that Angelique is number one in the world, Muguruza is a former finalist, a grand slam winner. It was a tough decision. But we are spoilt for choice. There are matches on Courts Two and Three today that would grace Centre on any other day.”
Apparently, “it’s not about male or female,” Lewis said, but the main matches were greatly demanded by broadcasters and spectators. However, as if it were a benevolent exception and appropriate justification, he added, “We felt that a former champion and one of the all-time great players deserved to be on Centre Court. Venus has played on Court One three times so it felt like the right time.” The decision for Venus to be on the Centre Court was unanimous.
Reactions to this move have been mixed, but mostly, the women players were left significantly surprised and confused. Kerber said, “To be honest, I was really surprised that I was playing on Court No. 2.” “That’s something we’ve talked about at Wimbledon for the last 10 years,” Caroline Wozniacki said. “It’s been the same for 10 years straight. The other grand slams are more equal [in their] positioning of men’s and women’s matches.” Three-time Wimbledon champion Chris Evert raised a pertinent question to BBC: “There needs to be a discussion because we have equal prize money, so why do we not have equal representation on Centre Court and Court One?”
It’s not enough that women are paid equally. It’s equally important that they are represented too.