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Madrid Open apologizes for silencing women's doubles finalists

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Madrid Open apologized on Thursday for not allowing the women's doubles players to address the crowd during the awards ceremony after last weekend's final.

While the finalists of the men's doubles and men's and women's singles were given the chance to talk to spectators following their matches, winners Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia and losing finalists Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula were oddly denied that customary honor after Sunday's final.

The circumstance was criticized by the players and bashed by fans on social media.

Four days after the incident, tournament CEO Gerard Tsobanian said it would never happen again.

"We offer our sincerest apologies to all the players and fans who expected more from the Madrid Open," Tsobanian was quoted as saying on the tournament's Twitter account.

"Not giving the chance to our finalists of women's doubles to speak to fans after the match was unacceptable."

After the final, Gauff lamented that she and the other players were not able to thank their fans for their support.

Pegula said she had never seen anything like it.

"What happened in Madrid, it was really disappointing," Pegula said. "Did I think we were not going to be able to speak? No. I've never heard of that in my life. I don't know what century everyone was living in when they made that decision."

Tsobanian said the event had apologized directly to all four players and that organizers were "working intensely, with the WTA, to revise our protocols."

"We made a mistake and it will never happen again," he said.

Tsobanian did not mention other issues that earned criticism.

Besides dressing ballgirls in short skirts and small tops in the prominent men's matches, fans on social media questioned the disparity in the size of birthday cakes organizers gave to the tournament's top players.

Home favorite and successful title defender Carlos Alcaraz was presented with a gargantuan cake after his semifinal victory on Friday, while Aryna Sabalenka, the eventual women's champion, received a much smaller cake.

The ATP-WTA event and its main sponsor ran a spot on Spanish television during the tournament denouncing gender violence against women that included many of the sport's top players.


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