London - Wimbledon defended shunting top women players onto
the outside courts on "Manic Monday", saying the big four of men's
tennis were the marquee matches demanded by broadcasters and spectators.
Andy Murray and Roger Federer's matches were put on the 15
000-seater Centre Court, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on Court One on
the second on Monday, when all the men's and women's last-16 matches are played
on the same day.
Former champion Venus Williams made it on the Centre Court
bill, while British home favourite Johanna Konta rounded out the order of play on
Court One, which holds 11 000.
That meant world number one Angelique Kerber was out on the
4 000-seater Court Two facing fellow former runner-up Garbine Muguruza,
followed by former world number one Victoria Azarenka against world number two
On the 2 000-seater Court Three, former Wimbledon finalist
Agnieszka Radwanska faced two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova,
followed by ex-world number one Caroline Wozniacki.
Meanwhile the new French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko was
on the 1 000-seater Court 12 show court.
All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis said the
nature of Wimbledon's Manic Monday - unique among the four Grand Slams in that
all last-16 matches are played on the same day - meant big name players would
not get on the main courts.
"You've got four of the all-time great male players:
Rafa, Roger Novak and Andy. You're left with some difficult choices," he
"We absolutely respect that Angelique is number one in
the world, Muguruza is a former finalist, a Grand Slam winner. It was a tough
decision. But we are spoilt for choice. There are matches on Courts Two and
Three today that would grace Centre on any other day."
The decision to make five-time Wimbledon winner Williams the
only big-name woman to play on Centre Court was a unanimous one, he said.
"We felt that a former champion and one of the all-time
great players deserved to be on Centre Court. Venus has played on Court One
three times so it felt like the right time," said Lewis.
"It was a unanimous view that Venus deserved to be on
Centre in respect of what she's done in her career."
Defending the Manic Monday format, Lewis said it gave fans
with cheaper outside court tickets the chance to see bigger-name players in
"It's a great day. A former player said to me they
think it's the best day in the tennis annual calendar because there's so many
great matches, fans are spoilt for choice," he said.