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Top-ranked Iga Swiatek took aim at U.S. Open organizers this week, criticizing the tournament for its use of different balls for the men’s and women’s competitions.
Swiatek, who dropped out of the Western & Southern Open quarterfinals Thursday, raised the issue a day earlier at a press conference with reporters, saying she doesn’t “feel well” when using the lighter balls.
“I don’t know why they are different than men’s ones,” she said, via ESPN.
“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.”
Swiatek said when she practices for the U.S. Open at home, she uses balls designated for the men’s tournament, adding that she has raised the issue with the WTA.
“I stopped actually pushing and trying to convince WTA because the war in Ukraine happened, and I refocused on something else,” she said. “Yeah, but honestly, any tournament I play with these balls, I didn’t feel well.”
WTA’s Senior Vice President of Global Communications Amy Binder told ESPN in a statement that the organization was looking into the issue after “a select number of athletes” raised concerns.
“The basis behind using the regular felt ball was that it limited the potential of arm, shoulder, elbow, and wrist injuries,” Binder said. “This is something that we will continue to monitor and discuss further with both our athletes and our sports science teams.”
The U.S. Open is the only major that uses different balls for men’s and women’s competitions. Main draw play at the U.S. Open begins Aug. 29 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.