Madrid Open organisers apologise for not allowing women’s doubles finalists to make speeches

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Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia pose with their trophies, with Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff chatting to tournament director Feliciano Lopez in the background
The Madrid Open is one of the most prestigious tournaments outside the four Grand Slams

Madrid Open organisers have apologised to players and fans for the “unacceptable decision” to not allow the women’s doubles finalists to make presentation speeches.

Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia beat Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff 6-1 6-4 on Sunday.

All finalists in the singles and the men’s doubles addressed the crowd after their matches.

Organisers say they have apologised directly to the four players involved.

Tournament chief executive Gerard Tsobanian said: “We sincerely apologise to all the players and fans who expect more of the Mutua Madrid Open tournament.

“Not giving our women’s doubles finalists the chance to address their fans at the end of the match was unacceptable and we have apologised directly to Victoria, Beatriz, Coco and Jessica.

“We are working internally and with the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) to review our protocols and are committed to improving our process moving forward. We made a mistake and this will not ever happen again.”

Organisers had initially said they would “not comment on the matter” when contacted by BBC Sport earlier this week.

Pegula said the decision was “disappointing” and questioned “what century everyone was living in”, while Belarus’ Azarenka called the situation “unacceptable”.

“There’s a lot of conversations, obviously, internally, of what happened and I want to see how that develops and what are the consequences of those decisions,” Azarenka told the Guardian.external-link “So that’s why I don’t want to make too many comments.

“I believe to give people the opportunity to figure out what’s the best course of action. Do I think it’s unacceptable? It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

The Professional Tennis Players’ Association said the players had been denied “the right to freedom of expression”.

The WTA, the governing body of the women’s tour, has not commented.

The incident brought more accusations of sexism at the clay-court tournament, after criticism over the ball girls’ outfits and the difference in sizes of the birthday cakes presented to men’s champion Carlos Alcaraz and women’s champion Aryna Sabalenka.

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