Wimbledon 2017 sexism tracker: Every incident in one place

Telegraph Reporters
Wimbledon - PA
Wimbledon - PA

It might have introduced equal pay for women players in 2007 (£2.2m for the top man and woman) but when it comes to Wimbledon, not everything can be considered equal. Every year, there are a number of sexist rows swirling around the tournament - whether at the hands of commentators, players, coaches or spectators themselves.

The first few days of the 2017 tournament have already seen eyebrows raised. Here, we've rounded them up and will add to the list as the grand slam plays out.

1. The pink bra row

Venus Williams and the 'offending' bra - Credit: Michael Steele 
Venus Williams and the 'offending' bra Credit: Michael Steele

On Monday, the first day of Wimbledon, there was a huge furore around Venus Williams. Not so much the fact that she broke down in tears during her press conference, when questioned about a recent car crash in which a man died.

No: about her bra.

The 37-year-old player wore what looked like neon pink lingerie on court but, when she came back on after a rain delay, had changed out of it. Was she forced to? Did she violated the all-white rule? Why in 2017 are we still focused on a woman's bra, rather than her sporting prowess?

Asked about it in after her first round match against Elise Mertens, Williams rightly and curtly replied: "I don't want to talk about undergarments." The AELTC refused to confirm whether match officials had spoken to Miss Williams, prompting her to change her bra, saying it was "a private matter" between the club and the player.

2. Sexist scheduling

Caroline Wozniacki has previously complained about a bias towards male players - Credit: WILL OLIVER 
Caroline Wozniacki has previously complained about a bias towards male players Credit: WILL OLIVER

It was first raised by Serena Williams in 2011. Then Caroline Wozniacki complained in 2015. While Venus Williams grumbled last year after being moved to court 18 for two matches.

Now, it has once again been claimed that male players get a better shot at the show courts. Analysis of the matches on Centre Court and Number One has found a male bias. Mark Leyland, a tennis fan and sci-fi novelist, said his analysis showed that unlike other Grand Slam tournaments the All England Club placed more male than women’s games on show courts.

In 2007 the former No 1 Jelena Jankovic complained that she “needed a helicopter” to reach the smallest of Wimbledon’s six show courts.

The AELTC said that across Centre Court and No 1 Court, the split of male to female singles matches was 50/50, including the ‘to be announced’ matches, which being later in the day are played in front of higher television audiences.

3. Bikini-gate

One would usually think of Wimbledon as a genteel gathering. So it came as a surprise to spectators on Wednesday, who were greeted by girls in red, white and blue bikinis as they queued for tickets.

The strawberries and cream toting women came courtesy of animal rights charity Peta. The move attracted an avalanche of criticism on social media, with accusations that it was 'Seventies style sexism'. The organisation said that the two women were volunteers and defended their right to use their bodies to make a point. Wimbledon officials confirmed that the stunt breached their marketing guidelines.

 4. The motherhood gap

Victoria Azarenka on Centre Court - Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley
Victoria Azarenka on Centre Court Credit: Heathcliff O'Malley

Only one woman has won Wimbledon in the last 100 years: 28-year-old Australian Evonne Goolagong in 1980. It's a stat that came to the fore this week, when Belarusian Victoria Azarenka - who is playing at Wimbledon after giving birth to her son in December - complained that the last minute scheduling of matches had left her hanging around the tournament all day and unable to properly schedule childcare. “I had to be here the whole day, which is, for a new mum, is a little tough. Hopefully I won't play like this again," she complained.

Azarenka is setting an example for mums in the game by returning to play at the highest level, and said she has already spoken to Serena Williams (who is seven months pregnant) about it.

German player Tatjana Maria, 29, who returned to tennis after the birth of daughter Charlotte, four, and is also through to Wimbledon’s second round, added: “I hope it [the increased publicity] will mean that all the tournaments will have a creche, because in the men’s tournaments we sometimes have one, but in the women’s not. I hope that can change.”


5. The lack of show on the show courts

Tennis player Chris Evert Lloyd of the USA during the women finals of the 1980 U.S. Open tennis tournament - Credit: Focus On Sport/Getty Images
Tennis player Chris Evert Lloyd of the USA during the women finals of the 1980 U.S. Open tennis tournament Credit: Focus On Sport/Getty Images

During an interview on 5 Live Chris Evert brought up the issue of the fact that while men and women earn equal amounts at every stage throughout the tournament,  there needs to be a discussion about why do we not have equal representation on Centre Court and Court One?

She said: "Instead of four men's matches and two women's matches, I would like to see, and I think all women would like to see, three men's matches and three women's matches to go along with the equal prize money".

"There have been years when there have been more marquee women players than men players. Fortunately for men's tennis and unfortunately for women's tennis this year the Top 4 men are of very high marquee value, and it's hard to say that Djokovic should be on Court No.2. But then I wonder about that argument because in the past there have been years when the women have been more attractive to watch, been bigger names, and they've still gone with the four men and two women. So why not just make it equal, simple for everyone? That's the way it is in the prize money now so why not in representation on the show courts?" 

6. The 'best dressed' row

As the second week of Wimbledon 2017 drew to a close, the Women's Tennis Association came under fire for a sexist poll conducted via its website. The WTA tweeted a link to the survey, which asked people to vote on the 'best dressed' female player at Wimbledon, choosing between Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Heather Watson, Kristina Mladenovic, Dominika Cibulkova, Carina Witthoeft and Alizé Cornet.


The WTA is the organising body of women's professional tennis and calls itself 'the global leader in women's professional sport'.

Outraged social media users criticised the organisation for 'objectifying' women and reducing the players to their looks. 

 But despite the backlash, the WTA poll remains active. A spokesperson said: "Tennis has a rich history linking the sport with fashion, and this is no more evident than at The Championships. 

"The traditional all-white dress code at Wimbledon is one of the most famous and iconic aspects of tennis, and the recent WTA best-dressed poll was created to celebrate this unique feature of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. 

"We see nothing wrong with promoting athleticism while celebrating Wimbledon's wonderful dress code."