Madrid Open organizers apologize following criticism over treatment of women tennis stars
The organizers of the Madrid Open have apologized to four leading tennis players following widespread criticism of their treatment after the women’s doubles final on Sunday.
Neither the winners – Beatriz Haddad Maia and Victoria Azarenka – or the losers – US pair Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff – gave acceptance speeches, later accusing organizers of not allowing them to speak after the match.
“We sincerely apologize to all the players and fans who expect more of the Madrid Open tournament,” Gerard Tsobanian, CEO & Tournament Organiser of the Madrid Open, said in a statement sent to CNN.
“Not giving our women’s doubles finalists the chance to address their fans at the end of the match was unacceptable and we have apologised directly to Victoria, Beatriz, Coco and Jessica.
“We are working internally and with the WTA to review our protocols and are committed to improving our process moving forward. We made a mistake and this will not ever happen again.”
After the match, Gauff tweeted that she “wasn’t given the chance to speak after the final,” while Azarenka added that it was “hard to explain to Leo that mommy isn’t able to say hello to him at the trophy ceremony.”
Pegula added: “I don’t know what century everyone was living in when they made that decision.”
But that wasn’t the only controversy during the week-long tournament.
Organizers were accused of sexism after dressing the ball girls in crop tops and short skirts for the event, later swapping the skirts for long shorts in the men’s final on Sunday.
Previously, Azarenka had also criticized organizers after a fan posted two photos on Twitter showing the difference in size of the birthday cakes given to Carlos Alcaraz and Aryna Sabalenka, who share a birthday on May 5.
“Couldn’t be more accurate on the treatment,” Azarenka said in response to the tweet.
That drew a response from tournament director Feliciano López, a former world No. 12 and seven-time winner on the ATP Tour, who said he was “surprised by this reaction after this gesture.”