WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Wimbledon has tinkered with its traditional naming titles for this year’s tournament.
Spectators at the All England Club and those watching at home will still hear the chair umpire refer to female players as Miss, Mrs. or Ms., but only at certain times — in the same instances that they will use Mr. for the male players.
The titles will still be used for both women and men when it comes to code violations, medical announcements and player challenges, according to the All England Club.
Heather Watson, a British player who is making her 10th appearance at Wimbledon, didn’t even notice the change while beating Caty McNally of the United States 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Monday in the first round. But she was all for it.
“Equality is always good,” Watson said.
In the past, the chair umpire would use the titles at the end of each game during women’s matches, and at the end of the match. But not for men’s matches.
So when Watson won a game in the past, the chair umpire would announce, “Game, Miss Watson.” But for a men’s match, the announcement would just be, “Game, Federer,” in the case of eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.
The topic of using the titles came up last year, the first year Serena Williams played at the All England Club as a married woman.
Instead of, “Game, Miss Williams,” it was, “Game, Mrs. Williams.” This year, assuming she wins a game in her first-round match on Tuesday, the chair umpire will say, “Game, Williams.”
Novak Djokovic, a four-time Wimbledon winner and the defending champion, said he hadn’t noticed that the club made the change for this year’s tournament.
“I don’t know, to be honest, how I feel about it,” said Djokovic, who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. “I thought that tradition was very unique and very special. I thought it was nice.”
But after being told that the reason for the change could be in the interest of gender equality, Djokovic was on board.
“I mean, sure, if that is the reason, then why not?” the top-seeded Serb said. “I support that.”