Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens on Tuesday blasted organisers of this week’s Brisbane International, accusing them of favouring the male players and not respecting the women.
The WTA tournament is being run alongside the Brisbane leg of the men’s inaugural ATP Cup, which has monopolised the centre court of the Queensland Tennis Centre since it began on Friday.
The ATP Cup’s last round-robin matches in Brisbane will be played on Wednesday, meaning women’s matches will be relegated to the outside courts until Thursday.
While most women’s players have been reluctant to comment on their treatment this year, Stephens, who is on the WTA players’ council, was not so reticent.
“I think there’s been a lot of challenges just because it’s a new event, combined with the girls, whatever, there’s definitely been some challenges,” she said.
“I think that when you’re a number one player in the world who is going to play on the side court, I don’t think that that’s great. I think it’s kind of a respect thing.”
Australia’s world No 1 Ashleigh Barty heads a high-quality field at the WTA Brisbane which includes four of the women’s top five.
But Stephens, speaking after her first-round loss to Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova, said the women had been sidelined in favour of the men.
“We just weren’t in the conversation to even be considered,” she said. “It was what the ATP wanted – they got what they wanted, girls to the side, that’s kind of how it always is.”
Stephens added: “I think, obviously, business is business.
“Their priority was the ATP Cup. I just feel like in general there could have been some things done differently.”
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