Williams vs. Ostapenko at Wimbledon as court questions arise
LONDON (AP) Venus Williams is the oldest woman in the Wimbledon quarterfinals since 1994. Johanna Konta is the first British woman to make it that far since 1984. Angelique Kerber’s loss means she’ll relinquish the No. 1 ranking.
Jelena Ostapenko needed eight match points for her latest win – and latest proof that last month’s French Open title was no fluke. Magdalena Rybarikova, a Slovakian ranked 87th, reached her first quarterfinal in 36 Grand Slam tournaments.
Those were among the significant goings-on in women’s fourth-round action at the All England Club on Monday, when another topic took hold: Why were so few of these matches played on the tournament’s biggest courts?
”I mean, honestly, I didn’t think about that,” the 13th-seeded Ostapenko said, then quickly added: ”But, I mean, yeah, I think I deserve to play on a better court than Court 12, I guess.”
The site of her 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory over No. 4 Elina Svitolina has a seating capacity of 1,065, making it only the fifth largest for the event.
Garbine Muguruza beat Kerber 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 at Court No. 2, with its 4,063 seats, in a matchup between the past two Wimbledon runners-up, a pair of players with a combined three major championships, and the woman atop the WTA rankings (well, until next week).
While Kerber noted that scheduling is ”not so easy” on the second Monday at Wimbledon – the only major with all men’s and women’s singles matches on one day – she added: ”Of course, I was surprised.”
”I don’t want to make any problem. I’m so focused on what I do, I don’t care if I played on 13, 1, 5,” she said, then acknowledged: ”I was expecting another court.”
All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis said scheduling decisions involve ”some difficult choices.”
Lewis said one factor Monday was that ”four of the all-time great male players” – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – were all playing. Their matches were all on the tournament’s two principal courts.
Both Centre Court (nearly 15,000 seats) and No. 1 Court (more than 11,000) had two men’s matches and one women’s match.
”I wouldn’t say it’s favoritism,” Lewis said.
”In the end, it’s not about male-female,” he said. ”It’s about which matches in the end are the ones that the public and broadcasters most of all would like to see.”
Five-time champion Williams played in the main stadium, winning 31 of 36 first-serve points while overpowering 27th-seeded Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-3, 6-2.
Williams, a vocal advocate for Wimbledon’s switch in 2007 to equal prize money for the genders, said about the court assignments: ”I’m sure that the women … would want more matches on Centre or Court No. 1 over the whole fortnight.”
She and Murray think the All England Club should consider placing four matches – two men’s, two women’s – at each of the top two arenas on what’s called ”Manic Monday.”
Over on No. 1 Court, Konta won 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 against No. 21 Caroline Garcia of France. Not since Jo Durie 33 years ago has the host country had a woman in the quarterfinals.
Britain’s last female champion was Virginia Wade in 1977.
”I’ve dreamed of it ever since I was a little girl – to be a Grand Slam champion,” said Konta, who had won just one match in five previous Wimbledon appearances.
Five-time champion Williams is 37; each of her past two opponents is 19. Now the American faces Ostapenko, who turned 20 last month and was born after Williams made her Grand Slam debut at the 1997 French Open.
”Winning never gets old at any stage in your career. Ever,” Williams said, then repeated that final word for emphasis.
The other women’s quarterfinal matchups Tuesday: Konta vs. No. 2-seeded Simona Halep, Muguruza vs. two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and Rybarikova against 24th-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe of the U.S.
Halep, who lost to Ostapenko in the French Open final, defeated former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (3), 6-2 and would replace Kerber at No. 1 if she eliminates Konta next. If Halep loses, then 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova would move atop the rankings despite a second-round exit at Wimbledon.
Rybarikova, a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 winner against 135th-ranked qualifier Petra Martic at Court 18 (capacity: 782), had no problem with the way matches were organized.
”To be honest, really, I enjoy watching more men’s tennis,” she said. ”Also for the spectators, it’s more enjoyable to watch, because it’s … Federer, Murray. Huge names. And I think they deserve, obviously, to be on Centre Court and Court 1. For me, myself, I’m happy to be on any court.”
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