"P*sses me off": Ons Jabeur calls out lack of "respect" for women at Madrid Open; talks discrepancy in light of Caitlin Clark's WNBA contract

Ons Jabeur (L), Caitlin Clark (R)
Ons Jabeur (left), Caitlin Clark (R)

Ons Jabeur recently shared her frustration about the differential treatment experienced by women’s tennis players at the Madrid Open and other European tournaments. She also touched on the lack of coverage of women’s sports when asked about the pay disparity noticed in Caitlin Clark’s WNBA contract.

Controversy erupted at this year's Madrid Open when Australia’s Ellen Perez hinted that the tournament was disregarding women’s doubles player, not allowing them to practice at the tournament grounds between 9 am and 5 pm.

The event also faced backlash last year, with the tennis world leveling allegations of misogyny after the seeming mistreatment of several WTA players including Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula and Victoria Azarenka.

In tune with the claims, Ons Jabeur recently spoke up about the lack of respect for women at the Madrid Open and many other European tournaments.

"I feel like we have a long way, especially here in Madrid and in Rome - in Europe in general. I feel they need to respect women more and they need to respect how we are playing," she said in her post-match press conference at the Madrid Open.
"I really enjoy watching women’s tennis, enjoy watching women’s sports in general. I think we deserve better. It's not like we are not doing any effort and we are asking for more than what we deserve, for sure," she added.

In the press conference, Jabeur was also notified about basketball star Caitlin Clark’s WNBA contract for her rookie year, which is reportedly less than the prize money a women’s tennis player would earn after losing in the first round of Grand Slams.

While addressing the discrepancy, the former World No. 2 credited the likes of Billie Jean King and Serena Williams, who “fought hard” for equal play in tennis.

"Very grateful for Billie Jean King and all the other women that fought hard, Serena, Maria," she said.

The former World No. 2 reiterated that the prevalent lack of emphasis on female athletes stemmed from a general disregard for women.

“I don't really think that it's just a question of money, but also respect. I told you so many times that people would judge women's tennis without even watching one match.
"That p*sses me off a lot. For me, you cannot judge a basketball match, women's match, because it's just a woman playing," she said.

"Really frustrating" – Ons Jabeur on coverage of women's tennis in Spain during Madrid Open 2024

Ons Jabeur pictured at the WTA 500 Charelston Open
Ons Jabeur pictured at the WTA 500 Charelston Open

Ons Jabeur noted that she grew up watching men’s football, as there was hardly any coverage of their female counterparts.

"I grew up just opening the TV, like Okay, let's go watch football, Ronaldo, this and that.
"First, we don't have the opportunity to watch a lot of women's sports in general, which it's changing right now, but I think we are in 2024, we need more than that," she said in the aforementioned press conference.

The three-time Grand Slam finalist also shed light on the almost non-existent coverage of women’s tennis in Spain during the ongoing Madrid Open.

"Here in Spain, I would love to go to the hotel and open the TV and see a woman's tennis match. I haven't seen once one tennis match of a woman," Ons Jabeur said.
"Even the female Spanish players they are not even showing. For me it's really frustrating to see that. How can you inspire young girls without showing any match in that? Then they say, Okay, men's tennis is better," she added.

Ons Jabeur, the 2022 Madrid Open champion, is hoping to make her mark at the tournament. She's through to the quarterfinals following a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Jelena Ostapenko. The Tunisian next faces Madison Keys for a spot in the semifinals.

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