On the first seven days of play at this years Wimbledon, womens matches were scheduled on Centre Court at half the rate of mens
No other sporting event provides me with feelings of joy and loathing as does Wimbledon. As a tennis fan who grew up playing on grass courts, these two weeks of lawn tennis are pure delight. But the tournament itself the suffocating stuffiness of its adherence to faux traditions, its delight in the class system and the inherent sexism of the scheduling also has me groan in despair.
Each year you will hear commentators wax gloriously about the traditions of Wimbledon but, really, such traditions are pretty thin on the ground. And as with many traditions in society, some of those in Wimbledon would be best discarded.
Take the all-white attire. It is just a hand down from the 1800s when one didnt wish to see the sight of women perspiring. The tradition is also only really a tradition if you ignore all the times it was disregarded in what are now regarded as historic moments.
The 1980 mens final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe is among the most famous tennis matches in history (famous enough to soon to be subject of film starring Shia LaBeouf) and yet both McEnroes and Borgs shirts would no longer be allowed due to their colour.
But the worst part of Wimbledon is the inherent sexism.
This, of course, does have a long tradition. I can still recall staying up as a kid to watch Chris Evert (then Chris Evert-Lloyd) play Martina Navratilova and wondering why the scoreboard read Mrs John Lloyd.
And not for nothing was it the last of the four grand slams to offer equal prize money.
But this year the policy of giving mens match prominence over womens has become all too obvious and out of step with the times.
On the first seven days of play, only seven womens matches were programmed to play on Centre Court, compared to 14 mens matches.
Laughably, on the traditional ladies day, the only reason two womens matches were played on Centre Court was because the two mens matches both ended early due to retirements, providing a space in the schedule for another match.
That day, world number one, Angelique Kerber, played the opening match on Centre Court it was to be the only time she saw the court. Her next match was on Court 1, and her third and fourth round matches were on Court 2.
That court is so far from the prime-time that the highest ranked man to play the court is the sixth seed, Milos Raonic. And yet not only did Kerber play on it, the womens number two seed, Simona Halep, played on it three times.
Of course, sexism had nothing to do with this decision. Perish the thought! It was just that, according to All England Clubs chief executive, Richard Lewis, the mens matches were what the public wanted to see.
And while you could argue that with Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, there were always at least two mens matches a day with household names playing, even here discrimination exists.
Mens fourth seed, Nadal, sarcastically noted this after his marathon fourth round match, which was played on Court 1, I want to come back because I want to play more times in the Centre Court.
His fourth seed counterpart in the womens event most likely let out a rather hollow laugh. While Nadal played two matches on centre court, Elina Svitolina played matches on Courts 3 and 12 the latter which has room for little over 1,000 spectators, compared to the 11,360 for Court 1.
The fourth round match Svitolina played on Court 12 was against the newest sensation in tennis 20 year old Latvian, Jelena Ostapenko, the current French Open title holder. Hardly a tough match to promote.
And ask yourself: is there any way that the organisers would put a 20-year-old man who had just won the French Open on an outer court if he was up against the fourth seed? Of course not.
Much of the problem comes from the tournaments own scheduling decisions.
It chooses to start matches on the two main courts at 1pm rather than 11:30am as is the case on the other courts, because the organisers laughably worry that the earlier start would mean empty stands, which would reduce part of Wimbledons atmosphere.
Generally the only time I see empty seats in Centre Court is when the royal box is shown, but I guess thats also part of the atmosphere (and one must not criticise the royals, though thankfully players no longer have to genuflect to them).
The most obvious case of the tournaments self-inflicted scheduling problems is on Manic Monday the day when all mens and womens fourth round matches are played. This occurs only because the previous day is the traditional middle Sunday rest day (because why would you want to have games played on a Sunday when people who work are able to attend?).
On that day, so many high class matches are being played that the tournament put one involving Kerber and Garbie Muguruza the winner of last years French Open on Court 2.
The pity of it was that the match was an absolute cracker. Muguruza won 4-6 6-4 6-4 and it was far more entertaining than Federers three set win over Grigor Dimitrov later in the day (and I say that as an absurdly parochial Federer fan).
And that is the problem with this policy.
Saying it occurs because mens matches are what the public wants to see is a self-perpetuating cycle. The public (either those at the event or at home watching on TV) see the men, and not the women, play and thus dont even know who or what they are missing.
And for those who still want to scream but women only play best of three sets, that aspect makes the lack of games on Centre Court even more inexcusable, because there is the time to play an extra match, whereas it would not be possible to play another best-of-five match.
We hear this type of argument from TV executives all the time about womens sport, and yet as the recent Super Netball and AFLW seasons in Australia showed, if you give womens sport good coverage and promotion, the audience numbers will be there.
Wimbledon is in a unique position of being able to promote the womens game. It can still have two mens matches a day, it just needs to start earlier and put on an extra womens match on Centre Court.
No doubt Ill forever be stuck watching the players wearing all-white, the half-empty royal box, the hushed tones about strawberries and cream and the traditions. But with luck, in future years, while looking forward to these two weeks I can also look forward to women being treated as less than second class.