Ons Jabeur accuses French Open organisers of sexism over schedule

Ons Jabeur’s match against Coco Gauff started at 11am local time  (Getty Images)
Ons Jabeur’s match against Coco Gauff started at 11am local time (Getty Images)

Ons Jabeur criticised the scheduling of women’s matches at the French Open after her quarter-final defeat to Coco Gauff at Roland Garros was played out in front of a sparse crowd on Tuesday.

US Open champion Guaff defeated three-time grand slam finalist Jabeur in a thrilling comeback across three sets, but with thousands of empty seats on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The match was scheduled in the early 11am slot, which has seen poor attendances throughout the tournament.

The French Open has once again come under fire for its scheduling, with all ten of the standalone “night session” matches given to men’s matches and with women’s matches often being played earlier in the day on the tournament’s main showcourts.

“Frankly, playing a quarter-final at 11am is really such a chore,” Jabeur said following her 4-6 6-2 6-3 defeat to Gauff. “We deserve to be here. Playing in the afternoon is better. There is going to be more people watching us and the stadiums are crowded.”

When asked about the topic of scheduling, Jabeur replied: “I have a lot to say on that topic. Ten night matches without any women playing. I really hope that I can see the contract negotiated with Prime [Video]. I really don’t understand the ins and outs, even for men. Playing that late for men after midnight is not a good thing.”

In 2022, French Open tournament director Amelie Mauresmo had to apologise after saying men’s matches were picked for the night sessions because they had more appeal. Mauresmo said the following year that the tournament was working on creating a more equal schedule, but the night sessions have exclusively featured men’s matches this year.

Attendances have also been poor for women’s matches. The match of the tournament so far, between defending champion Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka, was played out of thousands of empty seats on Court Philippe-Chatrier during the opening week.

Swiatek, who faces Gauff in the semi-finals on Thursday, did not criticise the schedule following her quarter-final victory over Marketa Vondrousova, with the World No 1 preferring to play during the afternoon when conditions are quicker.

“I don’t care,” Swiatek said. “I like playing during the day, so it’s comfortable for me that I can be scheduled that way.”