World No. 1 Iga Swiatek called out the U.S. Open in a press conference this week and the Grand Slam tournament’s usage of separate tennis balls for the men’s and women’s players.
The U.S. Open, which begins on Monday, Aug. 29, remains as the only Grand Slam tournament to use different balls for the men and the women.
“I don’t know why they are different than men’s ones,” Swiatek said at this week’s Western & Southern Open. “I don’t know, like, 15 years ago probably women had some elbow injuries because the balls were heavier and they changed them to women’s balls, but right now we are so physically well prepared that I don’t think it would happen. Plus we can’t get those balls in Europe, or actually, when we buy them at store, they are totally different than the tournament balls, so when I’m practicing with U.S. Open balls at home [in Poland], I’m practicing with men’s ones.”
The 21-year-old, who won her second career Grand Slam tournament at this year’s French Open, is just one of many women’s tennis players who have complained about the difference in balls at the U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open has not commented on the matter since Swiatek’s comments. The Polish player argued that it shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the tournament to use the same balls since Wilson provides both types of balls.
Swiatek was one player who spoke with WTA CEO and chairman Steve Simon last year about the issue.
“Maybe we should push a bit more,” Swiatek said. “I stopped actually pushing and trying to convince WTA, because the war in Ukraine happened and I refocused on something else. Yeah, but honestly, any tournament I play with these balls, I didn’t feel well.”
Amy Binder, the WTA's senior vice president of global communications, responded to the World No. 1’s comments via ESPN.
“The WTA has always utilized regular felt balls for hardcourt play, and we have now begun to hear from a select number of our athletes that they would like to consider a change to using the extra duty ball,” Binder said. “The basis behind using the regular felt ball was that it limited the potential of arm, shoulder, elbow and wrist injuries. This is something that we will continue to monitor and discuss further with both our athletes and our sports science teams.”
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