Jessica Pegula has wondered ‘what century’ the Madrid Open organizers are ‘living in’ after she and her fellow doubles finalists were not allowed to make post-match speeches.
Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia beat Americans Pegula and Coco Gauff 6-1 6-4 on Sunday.
All the men’s singles and doubles finalists spoke after their matches.
“I never heard in my life that we couldn’t talk,” said Pegula, 29.
“It was really disappointing. In a $10,000 final, you would talk.
“I don’t know what century everyone was living in when they made that decision, or how they had a conversation and decided, ‘Wow, that’s a great decision and there will be no backlash against that. “.
“It spoke for itself. We were upset when it happened and said at the trophy ceremony that we weren’t able to speak. It kind of proved a point.”
Azarenka, from Belarus, said it was “difficult to explain” to her young son Leo why she couldn’t address him in a victory speech.
Gauff wrote, “Twitter format doesn’t allow me to say everything I would have said during the speech if we had one.”
Tunisia’s world number seven Ons Jabeur, who did not take part in the tournament, said it was “sad and unacceptable” that the players were not allowed to speak.
Asked by BBC Sport for an explanation, Madrid Open organizers said: “The tournament will not comment on the matter.”
The Madrid Open offers equal prize money in ATP and WTA events, with singles champions winning just over £1million and doubles champions splitting £330,000.
Pegula, who is ranked third in the world in singles, shared £176,000 with Gauff as runners-up.
Why the Madrid Open is facing a ‘sexist’ backlash
The incident has prompted fresh accusations of sexism at the clay-court tournament, one of the most prestigious outside of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
The ball girls for the men’s matches wore different outfits for Sunday’s final between Carlos Alcaraz and Jan-Lennard Struff after complaints about the cropped tops and short skirts they had worn for the rest of the tournament.
Ballboys for women’s games wore looser polo shirts and longer shorts than before.
Another incident cited as an example of how female players were treated differently than males centered on birthday cakes.
Spain’s world number two Alcaraz received a three-tier cake for his 20th birthday after winning his semi-final on center court on Friday.
Belarusian world number two Sabalenka, who won the title on Saturday, received a more modest cake at the age of 25 on Friday, despite not having a match.
In response to a tweet from a fan describing the difference between the cakes as “amazing” and “misogyny,” two-time major champion Azarenka said Friday, “Can’t be more specific about the treatment.”
Madrid Open tournament director Feliciano Lopez said he was “surprised” by his reaction.
He stood behind Azarenka and the other female finalists on Sunday when they were told there would be no speeches.
Pegula, who is a member of the WTA Players Council, said: “There had been a lot of drama in Madrid this year, over a variety of different things. There was a lot of tension and it got worse. didn’t help the situation.”
On the wider problems of the Madrid tournament, she said: “Of all the drama, the end goal is to find solutions. It can’t happen again – it has to be changed.”
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the governing body of the women’s circuit, had no comment.