By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros
- Johanna Konta and Marketa Vondrousova played their semi-final on Court Simonne-Mathieu as the Roland Garros organisers find themselves hamstrung by weather and men’s final ticketing
PARIS, FRANCE – Johanna Konta made her thoughts eloquently clear on the subject of the scheduling for the Women’s semi-finals after bowing out to Marketa Vondrousova.
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After the joy of reaching another Slam semi-final on Tuesday and having a chance to relax while the rest of the field supposedly caught up, weather and a decision by the French Tennis Federation (FFT) to sell tickets for the two separate men’s semi-finals scheduled for Friday all brewed up into a storm that rivalled the elements.
Problem No. 1 was the weather. By the time Johanna Konta and Marketa Vondrousova had completed their path to the semi-final the expectation was that the Women’s semi-finals would be played on Thursday and they would have Friday off before the final.
Cue the rain on Wednesday – and lots of it. A complete washout of a day meant that the programme would repeat on Thursday, the semi-finals would have to be moved to Friday and the finals would conclude on Saturday, as planned.
So far so good – until the schedule came out. Problem No. 2 reared its head – the organisers had made a decision to sell tickets for the two planned men’s semi-final sessions separately. This meant they had to be on Court Phillipe Chatrier, and back to back to be able to give the men a day off before the final on Sunday. So, what to do with the women? Well we have two more show courts – let’s pop them on there and offer the tickets for €20 to get a view of two matches you would not normally see without parting with plenty of notes.
Also, back to the first issue – the weather was looking terrible for most of Friday, with a very real danger at the start of the morning that then men’s semi-finals would not both complete.
The organisers hamstrung themselves completely with this ticketing situation, and in doing so, once again demonstrated that the women are often left picking up the pieces of a broken toy.
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Konta, when asked after her semi-final loss to Vondrousova, initially did not want to be drawn into any part of this conversation, but she is savvy enough to know that this is worth making a stand over. Moreover, when Konta does have a mind to lend her voice to this topic, she does so with eloquence and a great deal of sense.
She said: “I think the way it looks probably speaks for itself more than anything. So I don’t really have much else to say on it. The court that we played on is a beautiful court, no doubt about it. I played my third round on there. So, it’s nice to be on a nice court”
“In terms of the surrounding and the occasion, probably [did not feel as it was a semi-final]. But then obviously I’m aware in what match I’m playing and what round (smiling).”
Konta admitted it had been a surprise to see the court assignment, but quickly thoughts turned to the job in hand. However, it did not go unnoticed by either Konta or Vondrousova that the WTA was also taken by surprise by the decision.
WTA CEO Steve Simon’s statement on the scheduling of the 2019 Roland Garros women’s semifinals: pic.twitter.com/XbbUBtQjz4
— WTA (@WTA) June 6, 2019
Konta added: “No one asked me before the schedule came out, saying, Are you okay with this? Or anything like that. But from my understanding, the schedule was released without the approval of multiple parties, so that’s all I understand from it. People are put in positions to make certain decisions but that’s nothing to do with me. I’m here to play.”
Not for the first time, it seems the women’s side of the draw gets the short shrift, and this is not only in tennis, or indeed in any women’s sport. Konta wryly acknowledged that the lone of questioning was (quite rightly) to get her opinion on the last 24 hours and she stated she was not oblivious to that before delivering a deft blow, eloquently.
“What is tiring and what is really unfortunate in this more than anything is that female athletes, have to sit in different positions and have to justify their scheduling or their involvement in an event or their salary or their opportunities. And I think to give time to that is even more of a sad situation than what we found ourselves in today in terms of the scheduling.
“I don’t want to sit here and justify where I’m scheduled. That’s not my job. My job is to come here and entertain people, and I feel I did that. And I feel I gave people who paid [for] tickets every opportunity to enjoy their French Open experience.
“And if the organisers do not feel that that is something that can be promoted and celebrated, then I think it’s the organisers you need to have a conversation with, not me, because I did my job and I did my job well.”
Konta is scheduled to play grass tournaments in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne, ahead of Wimbledon.
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