The clay court season in tennis is in full swing with the French Open just a few weeks away. The Madrid Open, one of the bigger non-grand slam events on the calendar, just wrapped up this weekend. Now you'd imagine the big stories coming out of this would involve Carlos Alcaraz defending his title from a year ago and Aryna Sabalenka taking down world no. 1 Iga Swiatek for the women's championship. Not even close actually.
So how will the sports world remember the 2023 Madrid Open? Something being described as cake-gate, the silencing of women's doubles, and model ball girls. Let's start from the beginning.
During the course of the tournament Spanish tennis phenom Carlos Alcaraz turned 20 years old. I've talked about him at nauseam on the blog, and for good reason. The kid is electric and will truly amaze you every single match. As a celebration for his birthday the tournament presented him with a cake following one of his victories. The cake, which you can see above, was ginormous. Aryna Sabalenka also celebrated a birthday during the tournament and was given a cake as well, much smaller albeit. You can see the comparison below. Vika Azarenka, a fellow female pro tennis player, chimed in.
Feli Lopez, the tournament director, reacted as such.
A lot of people wanted to make this a sexist situation, but the way I see it is this was played in Spain, Alcaraz's home country. He's royalty there. With Nadal fading out of the sport, Carlos is their new god. More people probably know his name than the King of Spain. I really think the tournament just went over the top because of the Spain aspect. Seemed like much to do about nothing, but it still made plenty of waves.
While that to me was a non-story when all the facts came out, the handling of the women's doubles final was a joke.
Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia defeated Coco Gauff and and Jessica Pegula to win the doubles title. After a final in tennis you always hear from both sides during the ceremony, winners and losers, as they address the crowd, their team, and everyone who helped put together the event. You may think that isn't a big deal, but I've never seen a tournament where that doesn't happen.
Well, none of the women's doubles players were given the opportunity to speak. You have to imagine it had something to do with Azarenka tweeting her criticism about the cake a few days prior.
Pretty weird move by the tournament. Both the Men's singles and doubles participants had plenty of time to speak. Same with the women's singles. Feli Lopez seemed to have signaled out Azarenka here because of her cake-gate comments. The female players involved took to twitter to speak on it.
I can't imagine being Lopez and having the cake gate comments getting to you so easily that you go ahead and take away their speech time. What a brain dead idea by Lopez. Just get over it, let them thank their people, and move on. Just a dumb move to make this whole thing a much bigger problem.
Aside from the cake-gate situation there was also this ball girl model controversy that was part of the conversation. This video below summed it up well.
What in the world are those shorts?
So yeah that was the Madrid Open. What a shit show.