Andy Murray and Venus Williams wade into Wimbledon 'gender bias' row as men dominate top courts

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Andy Murray and Venus Williams have waded into the row over accusations of sexism at Wimbledon after men dominated the tournament’s top courts on Manic Monday.

Williams and Murray are among players who have spoken out after just two women’s fourth-round matches were played on Centre Court and Court One.

World number one Murray said “it would be much better” if scheduling was balanced between the sexes, adding that officials could start play sooner to allow for an equal split between men’s and women’s games.

Britain’s Johanna Konta took on Caroline Garcia on Court One, while five-time Wimbledon champion Williams was handed a top slot on Centre Court as she played Croatian Ana Konjuh.


‘Bias’: Venus Williams said she would like to see more female players on the top courts (AFP/Getty Images)

But the four remaining games on the two courts were men’s singles matches.

Murray told a post-match press conference: “I think ideally you would have two men’s and two women’s on Centre, potentially starting the matches a bit earlier would allow for that.”

Asked if he thought the scheduling decisions were fair, he said: “Well, I don’t think anyone is suggesting it is fair. I’m not suggesting that it is.”

Richard Lewis, chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, defended the scheduling choices.

He told reporters: “I wouldn’t say it’s favouritism. I would say it’s taking the marquee matches.

“It’s not about male or female, in the end it’s about which matches you feel the public and broadcasters want to see.”

American player Williams said: “This day is always a tough day. The scheduling has stayed the same on this day since I’ve been around.

“I’m sure that the women, we would want more matches on Centre or Court Number One over the whole fortnight.”


Williams: Venus said organisers should consider starting play earlier (AFP/Getty Images)

Asked if play should start earlier than 1pm to accommodate more women’s matches in the largest arenas, Williams said: “It would be something worth considering.”

But Mr Lewis said it would be difficult to start play on the show courts before 1pm.

“Getting to the stadiums is a challenge so three matches on Centre and One works for us. It’s a tried and tested formula,” he said.

Several other tennis stars have voiced their concerns about the scheduling. 

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who beat Elina Svitolina on Court 12 to reach her first Wimbledon quarter-final, said “I think I deserve to play on a better court than Court 12.

“Elina is number four in the world. I think our match was a very interesting match for the people to watch.

“They put us on Court 12. It’s still good. It has Hawk-Eye. But I thought we would play on a bigger court.”

World number one Angelique Kerber, who lost her match in three sets, said: “I was really surprised that I was playing on Court Number Two. I was actually looking forward to playing on one of the two big courts.”

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