Equal rights and opportunity for men and women must be as the word is defined, equal. If not then why not? Especially after preaching equality…

Equality – the fact of being equal in rights, status, advantages, etc. (from the Oxford dictionary)

There is no middle-ground, no picking and choosing but still it is something that lives in society, sport and has been highlighted in tennis once again.

Over the years we have seen great changes but there is still plenty of work to do to be equal. If you are going to preach being equal something you must be is equal because if not you’ll be called out for it.

Roland Garros hit the headlines in 2019 when they brushed the women’s semi-finals to the outside courts and off the centre court to make way for men and were heavily criticised and in April they jumped to their own defence over a story published by RMC Sport.

For the first time Roland Garros introduced scheduled night matches this year beginning at 9pm local time in a TV deal with Prime Video in France titled as the ‘Match of the Day’. The story in RMC Sport suggested that the ten matches would solely consist of just Men’s matches.

On the 7th of April the FFT / Roland Garros released this statement.

“Following the RMC Sport article << Roland-Garros: the ten night sessions exclusively reserved for men>> published today, the FFT would like to underscore that at Roland-Garros Women and Men enjoy an equal footing, notably when it comes to Prize Money. In this vein, two Women’s and two Men’s matches are to be programmed daily on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The day’s play will therefore consist of three day matches and one night match.

The fourth match, << the match of the day >>, which will be played from 9pm, could be either a Men’s of Women’s match depending on the order of play decided upon by the head tournament umpire.”

When that statement came out I thought this is an early excuse. The sentence that stood out to me in all of that was “Women and Men enjoy an equal footing, notably when it comes to Prize Money.” The last part being added in says to me, we have to justify something we are doing to be equal. Might as well put on the end “but when it comes to court share and opportunity, we won’t be.”

So here we are, on the eve of the final scheduled night match of Roland Garros 2021 and what is the court share?

Monday – Women
Tuesday – Men
Wednesday – Men
Thursday – Men
Friday – Men
Saturday – Men
Sunday – Men
Monday – Women
Tuesday – Men
Wednesday – Men

Oh, what happened here then? 10 matches but only 2 of them were women’s matches. What happened to this “equal footing” that they “enjoy” ?

Just to check, the definition of equal footing:

the position or status of someone or something in relation to others; the relationship between two or more people or groups. The two groups must meet on an equal footing. They were demanding to be treated on the same footing as the rest of the teachers.” – Oxford Dictionary

Ok…

Oh yes and the word “enjoy”, interestingly Victoria Azarenka rightfully had her say on this the other day and I agree with every word she said…

“What concerns me is when somebody from the French Federation is continuously trying to say there is equality and only pointing to prize money.”

“But everything else, I wouldn’t even agree for a little with that. And that’s disappointing.”

“I think there are enough examples over the years where we have heard remarks towards women, where we’ve seen two women’s semi-final matches playing on the outside courts.”

“I think sometimes you need to hold some people accountable for some of those things, and not continuously point out to the obvious of prize money.”

Vika also said it “would be already a step forward” if she were to be asked to be involved in a night match in the future.

If you aren’t delivering an equal footing, don’t preach it.

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