Monday 18 December 2017

Serena leads sister pact after Centre Court snub


Mick Cleary

Serena Williams last night accused the All England Club of prejudice over the way her and sister Venus' matches have been shifted away from Centre Court.

The reigning women's champion and winner of 13 Grand Slam titles reached the third round with a 3-6 6-2 6-1 win over Romania's Simona Halep on Court No 2, a small show-court which is stuck in a far corner of the Wimbledon complex. It seats about 4,000 people, almost 10,000 fewer than Centre Court.

Venus Williams opened her Wimbledon campaign on the court on Monday and Serena was not best pleased to be out there yesterday, feeling that the American sisters are downgraded while senior figures in the men's game are not.


"Yeah, they're never moved across," said Serena. "They like to put us on Court 2, me and Venus, for whatever reason. I haven't figured it out yet. Maybe one day we'll figure it out.

"Actually, Venus and I have won more Wimbledons together than a lot of the players or by ourselves in doubles even. So, you know, I don't know.

"I never have too much time to warm up. I look at that as some kind of warm-up, trying to walk out there. I'm like, well, okay, this gets my legs moving. I think at some point I should (make it an issue). I just really try not to focus on going down on Court 2."

Williams and Halep had to fight their way through a throng of people crowding to see some action on the outside courts as they passed through on their 400m walk.

What was once known as the graveyard of champions has now been rebuilt, but its location at the extremes of the All England Club perhaps explains why Williams and her opponent arrived on court eight minutes late for their midday start.

The new site does have modern technology on it, enabling contentious calls to be challenged and replayed. That, at least, met with Willams' satisfaction.

"At least now they have a review out there, so I do like that," said the defending champion. "It was much better than the old one that was actually closer. I really hated that court."

Serena complained last year when her second-round match against Anna Chakvetadze was put on Court 2 on the day the queen visited Wimbledon and spent her time, understandably enough, watching Centre Court action.

Venus, the five times champion, was scheduled there for her opening match on Monday against Akgul Amanmuradova. The location didn't seem to trouble her for she came through in straight sets, 6-3 6-1.

Ironically, she had far more difficulty on Centre Court on Wednesday, Venus having to dig deep to see off Kimiko Date-Krumm in three sets.

Wimbledon denied that there was any favouritism given to any player, particularly the Williams sisters.

"There is a complex system of scheduling that takes into account 29 different factors," said All England spokesman, Johnny Perkins.

"No player is treated with any favour. But I am sure that the 4,000 spectators on Court 2 would have been delighted to watch the reigning women's champion win." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


Live, BBC2 12.0/TG4 11.55

Irish Independent

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