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Madrid Open: Feliciano Lopez responds to Ons Jabeur's comments calling the tournament sexist

Tournament director Feliciano Lopez says the Madrid Open must "try to be fair to everyone" after Ons Jabeur urged organisers "to respect women more" - you can watch the conclusion of the Madrid Open, exclusively live on Sky Sports Tennis this weekend

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Feliciano Lopez believes the Madrid Open is doing a great job in treating men and women equally and said they've learnt from last year's mistakes

Tournament director Feliciano Lopez says the Madrid Open will "try to be fair to everyone" after Ons Jabeur urged event organisers "to respect women more".

Following her fourth-round victory over Jelena Ostapenko in the Spanish capital, two-time Wimbledon finalist Jabeur criticised the tournament for "favouring men" as well as lamenting the lack of coverage for women's matches.

The tournament was hit with early controversy after Australian doubles player Ellen Perez took to social media to reveal that women's doubles players were not allowed to practice on the on-site courts between 9am and 5pm. Instead they were allocated practice courts off-site.

Lopez admitted mistakes had been made by organisers last year, but the former world No 12 thought Jabeur's comments were "unfair".

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in action against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia during the Mutua Madrid Open 2024, ATP Masters 1000 and WTA 1000, tournament celebrated at Caja Magica on April 29, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. AFP7 29/04/2024 (Europa Press via AP)
Image: Jabeur lashed out at the lack of respect shown to female players at the Madrid Open

Jabeur, who achieved a career-high ranking of No 2 in 2022, said: "I feel like we have a long way, especially here in Madrid and in Rome, in Europe in general. I feel like they need to respect women more and they need to respect how we are playing. Some things we feel it, and yeah, in maybe like a lot of things in practices, the way they treat women here and men, they're completely different. Maybe people from outside, they don't see it.

"Yeah, I'm definitely one of the people that I want to speak up. 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 what we deserve, for sure."

"I think women's tennis has come a long way. Very grateful for Billie Jean King and all the other women that fought hard, Serena [Williams], Maria [Sharapova], all of them. They're trying to represent, you know, very well the sport. I think a lot of women players need to be aware of it and aware of what's really happening," she continued.

"A lot more to be done when it came to respecting female athletes in tennis and in other sports."

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Jabeur saw her run at the tournament come to an end at the hands of Madison Keys in the quarter-finals

Speaking to Sky Sports Tennis, Lopez defended the Madrid Open as he responded to the comments made by Jabeur, saying: "I think we did a few things last year that shouldn't have happened but we learnt from our mistakes. But I have to say that we were the first tournament which paid the same prize money to women and men and so I don't think it's fair that some people may think that we are not treating men and women equally.

"We're doing a great job in that matter but I understand the frustration on certain things because there's a lot of things that can happen during a tournament such as transportation and with practice sessions, but we try to be equal and fair all the time so I think we have to move on and try to be fair to everyone."

Runners up Jessica Pegula (L) and Coco Gauff (2L) of United States and Winners Victoria Azarenka (2R) and Beatriz Haddad Maia (R) of Brazil pose while holding their trophy's after the Woman's Doubles Final match on Day Fourteen of the Mutua Madrid Open at La Caja Magica on May 07, 2023 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Image: Jessica Pegula, Coco Gauff, Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia were silenced from making on-court speeches after last year's women's doubles final in Madrid

Lopez also spoke about the women's doubles final in 2023 in which Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia beat Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff to claim the title but in a break from tradition organisers cancelled their on-court speeches, which received widespread criticism.

"Last year, I have to accept that the issue with the doubles finals, we apologise and we move on," said Lopez.

"We have meetings with WTA players with ATP players always willing to help and I think that this is the most important thing. There's a lot of things that we can still do in the future.

"It's difficult to say no to the people that you know. They feel as if they can ask for many things because of our relationship and sometimes it's a challenge for me to say no. I have to accept that this is part of my job."

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