Citi Open Improves WTA Talent Showcasing in 2013
Last year, I wrote an article about the imbalance of Citi Open’s Stadium Court schedule. Only 2 of the 31 WTA matches were hosted on Stadium Court. In their defense, that field was depleted due to the Olympics. Most importantly, it was the first time the WTA played at the site of the ATP Tournament in Washington, a venue where fans have come to see men’s tennis every summer since 1969. And last year, the top women’s seed was Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, hardly a thrilling top bill on the marquee. Still, I thought those numbers were a little off-kilter at that time.
I closed with this:
I am hopeful and somewhat confident that when the player fields are restored for next year’s CitiOpen, organizers will have more marquee WTA stars to feature and be able to confidently schedule a few more matches on Stadium. Or they’ll be hearing from Gloria Allred.
Fast forward to 2013.
The Citi Open did a better job with the WTA this year.
Gloria Allred was not called.
But…..that didn’t stop some of the media center occupants from chattering all week about the alleged inequality on twitter and in press conferences with WTA players. How unfair it was that there are less women’s matches on Stadium Court. To some, the proof of their group-think was that neither the women’s quarterfinals nor the women’s doubles final were put on Stadium Court. I even got caught up in it for a minute. For a minute. Then I came to my senses.
First of all, I wrote all about it last year when many of the bigger media dogs were only consumed with the Olympics. In fact, they didn’t take much notice of the Citi Open at all back then.
Unfortunately for the naysayers, their narrative doesn’t necessarily ring true this year.
According to Tournament Director Jeff Newman, Citi Open specifically planned well in advance to have the WTA “begin play on Stadium Court the first three nights of the tournament to showcase the best of men’s and women’s tennis for DC-area tennis fans”.
In fact, the women were scheduled on the Big Court five of the seven days of main draw play for Citi Open 2013.
I’m going to say this one more time. WTA had Stadium for the final and just one other match in 2012.
Citi Open is an ATP 500 and a WTA International Level, meaning the men’s tournament is twice as important in rankings points and cash as this one is to the female athletes. The men also have a larger entry field and played 50% more matches, too.
And yet, with the concern of some in the media room about these supposed slights, no one apparently bothered to request a press conference for the winners of the Citi Open Women’s Doubles crown. But everyone wanted Eugenie Bouchard and Taylor Townsend, the runners-up, because they generate more web traffic.
Hopefully, the WTA will morph this event into a Premier Level tournament, where the women will be rewarded with more prize money, more rankings points and more time on Stadium Court. Until then, Kudos to tournament officials for making 2013 Citi Open the best Washington Pro Tennis event yet in the 12 years of my attendance.