Djokovic: Day One Centre Court slot should not be for men only

Novak Djokovic says he would be happy if Wimbledon scrapped its tradition of having the men's defending champion always open proceedings on Centre Court.

Novak Djokovic walks on to the Centre Court for his first-round contest on Monday. - AP

Top seed Novak Djokovic said he would be happy if Wimbledon scrapped its tradition of having the men's defending champion always open proceedings on Centre Court on Day One of the tournament.

The 34-year-old Serb had to wait two years for the privilege this time after the 2020 event was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. He made up for lost time as he began his quest for a sixth Wimbledon title by beating British teenager Jack Draper 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday under the closed Centre Court roof.

Asked if it was about time the opening day slot on a court he describes as sacred for the sport should alternately go to the women's champion, Djokovic was inclined to agree.

ALSO READ - COVID-19 bubble makes it really tiring - Tsitsipas

"Why not? I'm not in the committee of Wimbledon, so I don't make those decisions. My opinion, of course, in terms of decision-making process doesn't matter much," the World No. 1 told reporters.

"Of course, that would be nice to see. They deserve it. I will be in favour of it."

It is rather a moot point this year as Simona Halep, who won the title by beating Serena Williams in 2019, has withdrawn because of injury.

The Romanian would have opened play on Centre Court on Tuesday which is traditionally known as Ladies Day but it will instead be World No. 1 Australian Ash Barty who plays the first match against Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.

'A stepping stone'

American Sloane Stephens, who is part of the WTA Player Council, said she appreciated it was part of the Wimbledon tradition.

"... I think we have so many other things that should be prioritised than the court assignment," the former US Open champion said.

"I could go on and on for days about that, but I think that's just like a small stepping stone to equal prize money and more women playing on Centre Court. Not at this tournament, just in general, like being able to split the night matches and things like that at every tournament.

"There are so many things that could trump this one, but I think mostly for me as a player council member, prize money is obviously very high up there, getting all the Grand Slams to get on board with having a good partnership."

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :