May 30, 2023

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Madrid tournament piling controversy: double winners not allowed to speak | WTA Madrid (Spain)

The organization of the tournament in Madrid took a nasty turn last week when it came to gender equality. After the “pancake incident”, there were also riots over the ball girls’ attire, and to top it all off, the multiples winners weren’t allowed to speak after their win. “I can’t explain this to my son,” said the winner, Victoria Azarenka.


The Madrid Masters 1000 is one of the most important clay-court events of the season, but in terms of gender parity, the premiere lost a few stitches last week.

It started with “cakegate” about Carlos Alcaraz and Arena Sabalenca. The Spanish crowd favorite celebrated its 20-year-old last week and was awarded a huge birthday cake from the organisation.

Sabalenka – ranked number two in the world and this year’s winner at the Australian Open – also celebrated her birthday, but to highlight the Belarusian, some savings were made at the bakery. Her share was a much smaller cake, so the criticism after that was not so kind.

Sabalenka couldn’t care less about the hype and defeated world number one Iga Swiatek in a titanic duel on Sunday. “I think it’s all about my birthday cake,” she joked in her victory speech.

Ball girls in short skirts

Meanwhile, riots break out around the boys’ and girls’ ball. For the first matches on the home court, girls were always called up, moreover, in short T-shirts and skirts.

For matches on smaller tennis courts, with less media attention, boys were also used and ball girls wore more concealed clothing.

Many fans took to social media and accused the organization of being sexist. Eventually the organization realized their mistake and the girls’ clothes were replaced with the ball in the final stage of the tournament.

Double winners are not allowed to speak

Moreover, the women’s doubles tournament was also closed with a bevy of jewellery. World No. 1 Belarusian Victoria Azarenka and Brazilian Beatrice Haddad Maya beat American duo Coco Gauff-Jessica Pegula in that final.

As tradition dictates, after the tournament, the winners and finalists are given a chance to speak. But after Sunday’s award ceremony and photo op, there was no speech moment.

This is sad and unacceptable.

Jabbour (WTA-7)

Winner Azarenka left a clear message on Twitter. “It’s hard to explain to my son Leo why my mom couldn’t say hi to him at the trophy show.”

Gough, a finalist, was also unhappy about the incident on social media. “I didn’t get a chance to speak after the final,” she wrote. She was joined by Anas Jaber, ranked seventh in the world in women’s tennis. “This is sad and unacceptable.”

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