The All England Club has admitted that it schedules matches between “attractive” female players for Centre Court at Wimbledon, reports the Daily Mail.
In the men’s tournament, five-times winner Roger Federer and British hope Andy Murray invariably play on Centre.
But on Friday, after Federer left the court, the next match was Victoria Azarenka of Belarus against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.
While both 19-year-olds have top form in the glamour department, Miss Cirstea was seeded 28 while Miss Azarenka, who won, is ranked and seeded eighth.
That same day, second seed Serena Williams was relegated to the new No 2 Court for her win over Italian Roberta Vinci.
The All England Club didn’t even bother to deny it:
Spokesman Johnny Perkins said: ‘Good looks are a factor.’
The Mail speculates that Wimbledon organisers are trying to cater to the BBC. An unnamed “BBC source” said:
‘No one has heard of many of the women now, so if they are pretty it definitely gives them an edge.
‘Our preference would always be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing figures.’
The tennis players have, unsurprisingly, noticed too, and are none-too-happy:
The fifth seed, who was knocked out on Saturday on No 1 Court, said: ‘It’s weird. If you look at the schedule, it’s not only about me.
‘It’s about Dinara on Court No 2, Venus (Williams) on Court No 1 and the girls who are not very highly seeded they play on Centre.
‘I respect them. They’re great players for sure. But this is what’s weird for me; what’s their strategy, what’s their plan of making the schedule?
‘This is what surprises me a little bit.’
Twice champion Serena Williams even got lost on the way to No 2 Court on Friday.
She was nearly ten minutes late for her match.
(Of course, the Mail, champion of women, took the opportunity to illustrate the story with huge photos of the players labelling who played on centre court and who didn’t, and captioning one with a reference to the “Battle of the Babes”.)
UPDATE: Reader Audrey emailed in with the info on how to complain – go here for details on how to write to the All England Club.