WTA chief backs Serena in court snub row

London: Four-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams found a powerful ally in her dispute over being exiled to an outside court when women`s tennis boss Stacey Allaster said she was "disappointed" by the decision.

Williams, the defending champion, was furious that her second round clash with Romania`s Simona Halep on Thursday had been relegated to Court Two, in the far reaches of the All England Club.

The American insisted that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, the world`s top two men, would never be forced to play away from either Centre Court or Court One.

Allaster, the head of the WTA, backed the superstar`s complaints.

"Serena Williams is a four-time Wimbledon singles champion, the defending champion of Wimbledon, and a 13-time Grand Slam singles champion. I share her disappointment," said Allaster in a statement.

But the All England Club, which has been forced to regularly tweak the schedule after frequent interruptions caused by rain, denied there is any bias against either Serena or sister Venus, a five-time Wimbledon winner.

"Match scheduling at Wimbledon is a complex business and involves the referee and his experienced team in trying to achieve a fair and balanced draw from many competing interests and wishes, including the players," said a spokesman.

"There is certainly no intention to favour any player or players, and in this instance I am sure the 4,000 spectators on Court Two would have been delighted to see our reigning ladies` champion win."

Serena had been left raging at what she took as a snub to her and her sister.

"They like to put us on Court 2, me and Venus, for whatever reason. I haven`t figured it out yet. Maybe one day we`ll figure it out," said Serena.

"They (Nadal and Djokovic) are never moved across. Actually, Venus and I have won more Wimbledons together than a lot of the players or by ourselves in doubles even.

"I don`t make it a big issue, but I think at some point maybe I should."

Top seed and world number one Caroline Wozniacki had also been due to play her second round tie with France`s Virginie Razzano later Thursday on Court Two before rain curtailed the day`s programme.

Wozniacki is still due to play on that court when the fifth day of action gets underway later Friday.

Court One will feature Venus`s third round clash with Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain with 2004 champion Maria Sharapova opening up the programme against British teenager Laura Robson.

Bureau Report

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