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French Open: WTA calls for women getting better prime time slots for matches

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The WTA has called for a balanced match schedule at the French Open that gives women’s players their fair share of prime time billing after the Grand Slam featured men’s matches in all 11 evening session slots this year.

In France, Amazon’s Prime Video has exclusive broadcasting rights for the major’s evening sessions, which run from the first round to the quarter-finals, and only one women’s match was chosen to be the evening showpiece in both 2022 and 2023.

Tournament organisers missed an opportunity to highlight the blockbuster second round clash featuring defending champion Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka in the evening, with that three-setter hailed as one of the matches of the tournament so far.

“The generation and depth of talent we are currently witnessing in the sport is incredible,” the governing body of women’s tennis said in a statement.

“Fans want to see the excitement and thrill of women’s tennis on the biggest stages and in the premium time slots.

“To continue building the value of our combined product, a balanced match schedule that features both the best in men’s and women’s tennis is critical.”

READ MORE | French Open 2024: Jasmine Paolini crushes Mirra Andreeva to set up final with Iga Swiatek

French Open organisers did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Tournament director and twice Grand Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo had said last year they could “do better” on evening scheduling and Tunisian eighth seed Ons Jabeur was less than happy to play her quarter-final in the morning this year.

“I would have loved a quarter-final at night, not at 11 a.m. For me, it doesn’t make sense… I don’t know the broadcasts. I don’t know the TV, but yeah, you achieve a quarter-final, it’s like ‘no, you play at 11’,” Jabeur said.

“Honestly, I wish I can see the contract time between both Prime and here to know what’s the deal there. There were a lot of good women’s matches.

READ MORE | French Open 2024: Jabeur ends Tauson run, sets up quarterfinal clash with Gauff

“Obviously not four hours, but who said it’s healthy to play past 1 a.m. and who said the stadium was full for 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.? I don’t know who is watching the matches at that time.

“I would suggest to start earlier and then put nice matches on both sides. It’s not healthy also for players to play past, I don’t know, midnight.”

Not all women’s players prefer evening matches, however, with Swiatek saying she was much more comfortable playing in warm weather during the day.

“I like playing during the day, so it’s comfortable for me that I can be scheduled that way,” she said.

“Probably there are many factors, a lot of requests… I understand some decisions, like me and Naomi being in the day when Richard Gasquet played during the night.

“It’s obvious that a French player might have priority in terms of night sessions.”

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