Williams sisters to clash as US Open sexism row unravels

AFP
Serena and Venus Williams set up a 30th career meeting on Wednesday as the US Open reeled from a sexism row sparked when a player changed her shirt on court.
AFP

Serena and Venus Williams set up a 30th career meeting on Wednesday as the US Open reeled from a sexism row sparked when a player changed her shirt on court.

Six-time champion Serena eased into today’s third round encounter against her sister with a 6-2, 6-2 win over German world number 101 Carina Witthoeft.

Venus, the 2000 and 2001 champion, made the third round with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Camila Giorgi.

Today’s match will be the earliest the sisters have met at a Slam since their first ever meeting at the 1998 Australian Open.

“Friday will be incredibly hard,” said Serena before jokingly hitting back at Venus’s claim that when they last met at a Slam in the final of the 2017 Australian Open her sister had an advantage as it was “two against one.”

That was a reference to Serena being in the early stages of pregnancy with her daughter Olympia.

“I guess I had a little advantage but it’s going to be hard for me on Friday,” said 36-year-old Serena.

Defending champion and third seed Sloane Stephens also made the third round with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Ukraine qualifier Anhelina Kalinina.

Victoria Azarenka made the third round for the first time in three years with a 6-1, 6-2 win against Australian 25th seed Daria Gavrilova. Azarenka was amongst the first players to condemn the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for handing French player Alize Cornet a code violation for changing her shirt on court on Tuesday.

The incident sparked an immediate storm over sexism. The Belarusian said the USTA displayed double standards for sanctioning Cornet while male players routinely remove their shirts courtside when the heat and humidity bite.

“If I would say my true feelings, it would be bleeped out, because it was ridiculous,” said Azarenka.

The USTA admitted they were wrong to hand Cornet a warning for slipping off her shirt on court after realizing she had put the garment on back-to-front during a heat-break.

Cornet said she was stunned that the furore had caused so much controversy and was happy to accept the USTA’s apology.

“I think it’s very fair from them to apologize to me. I think the umpire was probably overwhelmed by the situation,” said Cornet who insisted that French tennis federation (FFT) president Bernard Giudicelli’s Roland Garros ban on Serena Williams’s catsuit was much worse and worthy of being deemed ‘sexist.’

“The president of my federation lives in another time and can still do these kind of comments. They are totally shocking for me,” she said.

“What Bernard Giudicelli said about Serena’s cat suit was 10,000 times worse than what happened to me.”

Seventh seed Elina Svitolina cruised past Tatjana Maria 6-2, 6-3, while Kaia Kanepi beat Jil Teichmann of Switzerland 6-4, 6-3. However, ninth seeded Julia Goerges, slumped to a 7-6 (10), 6-3 defeat to Ekaterina Makarova.

World number one and defending champion Rafael Nadal steamed into the third round at the US Open on Wednesday with a straight-sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Vasek Pospisil.

Former champions Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro also advanced, while 2012 winner Andy Murray, like Wawrinka back at Flushing Meadows after missing last year through injury, was bounced by Fernando Verdasco.

Wawrinka survived searing mid-day heat and a spirited Ugo Humbert.

“I knew it would be a difficult match,” said Wawrinka, who was pleased to find himself feeling fit after prevailing 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in three hours and 21 minutes.

Meanwhile Murray, the 2012 US Open winner, lost 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, whose only win over Murray in 14 prior meetings was at the 2009 Australian Open.

Del Potro, the third-seeded Argentinian, defeated American Denis Kudla 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (4).

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek 20-year-old, fell 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to Russian Daniil Medvedev. Medvedev booked a third-round meeting with 20th-seeded Borna Coric, a 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3 winner over Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena.

Fifth-seeded South African Kevin Anderson made quick work of France’s Jeremy Chardy, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. Anderson next faces rising Canadian star Denis Shapovalov, who labored to a 6-4, 4-6, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory over Italian Andreas Seppi.


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