Wimbledon has faced criticism in recent days for its sexist scheduling, which persistently sees men play on the two main courts while women's matches are relegated to the lower courts.
There have been two men's matches on Centre Court every day of this year's tournament so far, versus just one women's match. The gender bias was particularly noticeable yesterday, when women's top seed Angelique Kerber, who reached last year's final, played 2015 finalist Garbine Muguruza, on Court 2 rather than one of the two main show courts.
Kerber said she "was really surprised" to be playing on the second court. "I was actually really looking forward to playing on one of the two big courts," she said, reported the Standard. The two-time Grand Slam champion also faced Shelby Rogers on the same court on Saturday.
There have been numerous other examples of sexism in the tournament's schedule, too – not least the fact that in its first seven days there were 14 matches on Centre Court from the men's singles draw compared with just eight from the women's, as the Standard highlighted. No top male seeds have played on Court 2 this century, which pretty much proves the point.
But Andy Murray, the current world number one, three-time Grand Slam champion and national treasure, has spoken out against the bias and floated an idea that could end sexism allegations against Wimbledon. "I don't think anyone's suggesting it is fair. I'm not suggesting that it is," he said yesterday.
"It would be much better if there was four matches [on the show courts] – two men's and two women's," Murray suggested, as opposed to the current three. "We need to find a way of allowing for an equal split of the men's and women's matches across the tournament rather than just looking at one day. If there's better matches on the women's side than the men's side, you can flip it. If there's better matches on the men's side, then that has to go first, as well."
He admitted his suggestion would require an earlier start than the current 1pm on the two main courts. "When you start at 1:00, and you can't play under the lights, you have a very limited amount of time. When I played [Fabio] Fognini [on Friday], we had hardly any light left. The matches were not particularly long that day, and we almost ran out of time.
"So maybe starting the matches a little bit sooner, a little bit earlier in the day, and splitting them between the men and women [is the answer]. It's not the hardest thing to do. At the Aussie Open, there's three women's matches, two men's pretty much every day on the stadium court, as well [sic]."
It sounds like a practical and perfectly do-able solution, however, the tournament's organisers have previously resisted starting earlier due to fears of half-empty stands. It's a fair point, but we reckon more people would be keen to come anyway if Wimbledon took the progressive step for equality's sake.