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Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff followed the form book to defeat their lower ranked adversaries and advance to the final on Day 14. There was also a ceremony to salute Bille Jean King. Maybe it should have been done during the one and only night session out of the 10 to feature a woman's match.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
We at the review love the irony of an outfit bearing the name Amazon not showing that many women’s matches. But hey ho, at certain points in the slavish service of Mammon, it’s easy to let slices of your Greek mythology go. The night matches are no more but their 10-day sojourn at the 2022 French Open has forced the tournament organisers to look at the voracious monster they’ve made. In the hunt for cash, a few factors such as player welfare, equality and the environment have been set aside. Only having one of the 10 sessions for women’s matches has been easily explained away. “No one will watch;” is one excuse. “It’s not appealing” is another – that one from the tournament director Amélie Mauresmo. “There aren’t any high profile women”. Here’s a thing. How can the women obtain a high profile without even a smidgen of the chance? “A bad women’s match will be bad for the ratings," is another often heard dismissal. And a one-sided men’s match à la Marin Cilic v Daniil Medvedev won’t? Patriarchal claptrap. Even if those caveats about the women’s game are accepted, however reluctantly, how to justify part of an event that forces the massive use of taxis to get home since public transport - except for night buses – has closed down at gone 1am in the morning? That’s not eco friendly at all. An ethical rethink can’t come quickly enough before the 2023 French Open.
The review wants a job in the marketing departments of the French tennis federation. We think It takes chutzpah extraordinaire to get involved in a row over equality when you are planning to hail Billie-Jean King – the most ardent of campaigners for equal rights. We would have thought someone in the soup would have said: “This won’t taste good.” Maybe someone did. And maybe someone else said: “No-one will highlight the irony of a ceremony on centre court to honour the 50th anniversary of Billie Jean King’s French Open triumph with us only putting on one woman's match in the 10 night sessions." No. No-one. At all.
If you couldn’t get into the centre court for the women’s semis, they were screened on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Once those matches were over, there was a special screening of the Billie Jean King biopic Battle of the Sexes. What kind of attitudes was she trying to combat, we wonder.
Because of King's guts and endeavour, the likes of Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff will receive the same prize money as their male counterparts. Swiatek, who has just turned 21, will take on 18-year-old Gauff in Saturday's women's singles final after respective straight sets victories over Daria Kasatkina and Martina Trevisan. Form book followed. From 2-2 in the first set, Swiatek won 10 of the next 11 games to take the match. From 3-3 in the first set, Gauff took nine of the next 10 to claim her tie. It will be intriguing to see how they cope if it descends into a sticky dogfight.
Keep calm and carry on
If her surge through the semi-final was clinical, Coco Gauff's post- match comments were equally cool and composed. Asked about her imminent date with the top seed Iga Swiatek in the final, Gauff went international. "Yeah, it's a Grand Slam final, she said calmly. "It doesn't matter. There's a lot of stuff happening in the world especially in the United States at the moment. It's important not to stress about a tennis match." Billie Jean, your flame is in good hands.