(Reuters) - Tennis great Billie Jean King believes men will benefit from playing three-set matches at Grand Slam tournaments.
Men currently play best-of-five sets at the four major events and the three-set format is used in other ATP World Tour tournaments while women play best-of-three matches in most competitions, including the grand slams.
“Personally, I don’t want the men playing five sets anymore. I think it takes too much out of them,” King, who founded the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973, told reporters at the launch of the WTA Finals in Singapore.
“Like one time the players played in the Australian Open final. It took six hours. They could hardly walk off the court. I guarantee you that it took a year off their careers.”
King used the 2012 Australian Open final between Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, which lasted five hours and 53 minutes, to reiterate her point that the current format could be too taxing for players.
The retired American ace said women were willing to play five-set matches but used the entertainment industry to highlight her stance that athletes will get paid the same regardless of the duration of the matches.
“Everyone keeps saying we don’t want to. We’re very willing. All the women are willing to play three or five sets,” King added.
“It doesn’t matter if (the artists) play for one hour or six hours. They get paid the same amount.”
The season-ending WTA Finals is scheduled to be held at Shenzhen, China from 2019 through 2028.
(Fixes typo in intro)
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty