'We always have to justify ourselves': Konta blasts Roland Garros

Paris (AFP) –


Johanna Konta said being shunted to an outside court for her Roland Garros semi-final Friday "speaks for itself" and said it was "sad" that women have to "justify their involvement".

The British player lost to Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) in a match moved out to the 5,000-seater Court Simonne Mathieu.

The match started at 11 a.m. in an arena which was barely half-full.

"The way it looks probably speaks for itself more than anything," said Konta.

Under normal scheduling, the women's semi-finals would have been played on Thursday on the showpiece 15,000-capacity Court Philippe Chatrier.

However, after Wednesday was washed out and more rain forecast for Friday, Roland Garros organisers decided to move both women's semi-finals away from the main area.

While Konta and Vondrousova played on Simonne Mathieu, the other semi-final between Ashleigh Barty and Amanda Anisimova was staged on the 10,000-seat Suzanne Lenglen.

That also started at 11 a.m. in another half-full stadium.

Chatrier had already been scheduled to stage the men's semi-finals between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic against Dominic Thiem.

Both those matches had been sold as separate ticketed events.

WTA chief executive Steve Simon said the decision was "unfair and inappropriate".

Former world number one Amelie Mauresmo of France described it as a "disgrace".

Konta, who was bidding to become the first British woman since Sue Barker in 1976 to reach the final in Paris, said she was surprised by the decision to move her match to the tournament's third court.

"No-one asked me before the schedule came out, saying, Are you okay with this? Or anything like that. But from my understanding, the schedule was released without the approval of multiple parties."

Konta believes the controversy illustrates the problems women face in the sport.

Some commentators argued that had the likes of superstars Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka made the semi-finals then organisers would not have dared contemplate shifting the matches.

"What is tiring and what is really unfortunate in this more than anything is that women athletes have to justify their scheduling or their involvement in an event or their salary or their opportunities.

"And I think to give time to that is even more of a sad situation than what we found ourselves in today in terms of the scheduling.

"My job is to come here and entertain people, and I feel I did that.

"And if the organisers do not feel that that is something that can be promoted and celebrated, then I think it's the organisers you need to have a conversation with, not me."

Vondrousova will face Barty in Saturday's final on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Federer said he was surprised to see the schedule for Friday.

"I was trying to understand how did we get there," said the Swiss after his straight sets loss to Nadal.

"The problem is we don't have a roof here, and I just think maybe not enough rounds are being played in the first week.

"Maybe they need to double up in the first weekend or something."