Madrid Open: Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula among stars denied women’s doubles finalists speech

Madrid Open has been clouded by more and more accusations of sexism

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The Madrid Open, which concluded with the men’s final on Sunday, has been shrouded in controversy with several accusations of sexism being reported.

American tennis star Jessica Pegula is the latest to add fuel to the fire after criticising the tournament after she and her fellow women’s doubles finalists were not allowed to make presentation speeches.

On Sunday 7 May, Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia beat the American duo of Pegula and Coco Gauff 6-1 6-4 in the final but not one of the four was then able to make a presentation speech. All finalists in the singles and men’s doubles were allowed to address the crowd after the match. BBC Sport asked the Madrid Open organisers for an explanation, to which they replied: “The tournament will not comment on the matter.”

This is not the first accusation the tournament has faced, however, this year. Ball girls for the men’s matches wore different outfits for Sunday’s final between Carlos Alcaraz and Jan-Lennard Struff following complaints about crop tops and short skirts they had been wearing previously.

The ball boys for the women’s matches had worn baggier polo shirts and longer shorts than the ball girls while another incident of sexist accusations was centred around birthday cakes.

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz celebrates defending his Madrid Open title Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz celebrates defending his Madrid Open title
Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz celebrates defending his Madrid Open title

The tournament winners, Carlos Alcaraz and Aryna Sabalenka, share a birthday and while the ATP world number two was presented a three-tier cake for his 20th birthday after winning his semi-final on centre court on Friday, the Belarusian world number two received a single tiered, much more modest looking cake, when she turned 25 on Friday.

Given Alcaraz was playing in his home tournament, it is possible this played a part in the difference in cakes, but differences there were undoubtedly.

What has the reaction been?

Jessica Pegula has said regarding her lack of presentation speech: “I don’t know what century everyone was living in when they made that decision. Or how they had a conversation and decided, ‘Wow, this is a great decision and there’s going to be no-backlash against this’.

“I’ve never heard in my life we wouldn’t be able to speak. It was really disappointing. In a $10,000 final you would speak. It spoke for itself. We were upset when it happened and told during the trophy ceremony we weren’t able to speak. It kind of proved a point.”

Pegula, who is a member of the WTA Players’ Council added: “There had been a lot of drama in Madrid this year, on a variety of different things. There was a lot of tension and it got worse. That didn’t help the situation. Out of all the drama, the end goal is to figure out solutions. This cannot happen - it needs to be changed.”

Women’s doubles winner Azarenka said it was “hard to explain” to her young son Leo why she was unable to address him in a victory speak while Gauff took to Twitter to say: “Twitter format doesn’t allow me to say everything I would’ve said during the speech if we had one.” Responding to the cake-gate, Azarenka also said on Friday that it “couldn’t be more accurate on the treatment.”

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