World No.3 Jessica Pegula has criticized Madrid Open organizers after the American and her fellow women’s doubles finalists were not allowed to make speeches at the trophy ceremony.
Pegula and Coco Gauff lost the women’s doubles final 6-1 6-4 to Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia on Sunday, but neither player had a chance to address the audience.
The men’s doubles finalists were allowed to do so after their match the day before.
“What happened in Madrid was really disappointing… I had a feeling something was going to happen,” Pegula said ahead of this week’s Italian Open. “I thought we weren’t going to be able to talk? No.
“I’ve never heard of that…in my life. 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 big decision and there’s not going to be any reaction in against this’.
“I never heard in my life that we couldn’t talk. It was really disappointing. In a $10,000 final you would talk.”
“It spoke for itself. We were upset when it happened and we said during the trophy ceremony that we couldn’t speak. It somehow proved to be a point.”
bbc sport he quoted Madrid Open organizers as saying of the decision: “The tournament will not comment on the matter.”
Gauff added that the problem was not about the speech itself.
“I have a lot of finals, so that’s not what it’s about,” Gauff said. “It’s more about the principle behind it, so this can’t happen again for future girls, take away the opportunity.”
Azarenka said it was “difficult to explain” to her son Leo that she was unable to speak at the trophy ceremony. World number 7 Ons Jabeur, who did not play in Madrid, wrote on social media that it was “sad and unacceptable” that the players were not allowed to speak.
The Madrid Open offers the same prize money at ATP and WTA events, with the singles champions taking home just over £1 million and the doubles champions sharing £330,000. Pegula and Gauff shared £176,000 as doubles runners-up.
Sexism Row Tournament of Hits
The tournament has been plagued by accusations of sexism aside from the controversy surrounding the speeches.
Ball boys in Sunday’s men’s final wore different outfits from earlier in the tournament following complaints about the cropped tops and short skirts they wore, while ball boys in the women’s matches wore looser-fitting polo shirts and shorts.
The size of the birthday cakes presented to the players was cited as another example of how male and female players were also treated differently at the Madrid Open.
Eventual men’s champion Carlos Alcaraz received a three-tiered cake to celebrate his 20th birthday following his semifinal victory on Friday.
However, world number 2 and women’s singles champion Aryna Sabalenka was given a single-tier cake after her 25th birthday on the same day she didn’t have a match.