Babe, set and match! Looks count for more than talent when they decide which girls will play on Wimbledon's Centre Court
By Colin Fernandez and Emily Andrews
Last updated at 12:24 AM on 29th June 2009
When it comes to choosing which women play on Centre Court, good looks count for more than big shots.
While a succession of easy-on-the-eye unknowns have appeared in Wimbledon's prime arena, the top women's seeds have been relegated to lesser courts.
And last night the All England Club admitted that physical attractiveness is taken into consideration. Spokesman Johnny Perkins said: 'Good looks are a factor.'
The unseeded world No 45, Gisela Dulko, during last week's Battle of the Babes
In the men's tournament, five-times winner Roger Federer and British hope Andy Murray invariably play on Centre.
But on Friday, after Federer left the court, the next match was Victoria Azarenka of Belarus against Romania's Sorana Cirstea.
While both 19-year-olds have top form in the glamour department, Miss Cirstea was seeded 28 while Miss Azarenka, who won, is ranked and seeded eighth.
That same day, second seed Serena Williams was relegated to the new No 2 Court for her win over Italian Roberta Vinci.
Centre: World No 59 Maria Kirilenko of Russia
Centre: No 28 seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania
The fact that many seats remained empty for the Cirstea-Azarenka clash implies that the knowledgeable SW19 crowd were underwhelmed by the tennis on offer.
Which would suggest that attractive players are placed on Centre to titillate the BBC television audience, some of whom care more for a pretty face than a powerful forehand.
A BBC source said: 'It's the Wimbledon play committee, not us who decides on the order of play.
'But obviously it's advantageous to us if there are good-looking women players on Centre Court. No one has heard of many of the women now, so if they are pretty it definitely gives them an edge.
'Our preference would always be a Brit or a babe as this always delivers high viewing figures.'
On Wednesday, Centre delivered exactly that - the so-called Battle of the Babes between unseeded Gisela Dulko (world ranking 45) and unseeded Maria Sharapova (ranking 60).
Then on Thursday ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki defeated Russian Maria Kirilenko, 59 in the world, on Centre while No 1 seed Dinara Safina was downgraded to an outer court.
Miss Safina, 23, said: 'I mean of course it's not fair, but then I'm not doing the schedule.'
French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 24, was also annoyed. The fifth seed, who was knocked out on Saturday on No 1 Court, said: 'It's weird. If you look at the schedule, it's not only about me.
'It's about Dinara on Court No 2, Venus (Williams) on Court No 1 and the girls who are not very highly seeded they play on Centre.
'I respect them. They're great players for sure. But this is what's weird for me; what's their strategy, what's their plan of making the schedule?
No 2 seed Serena Williams of the U.S.
'This is what surprises me a little bit.' Twice champion Serena Williams even got lost on the way to No 2 Court on Friday. She was nearly ten minutes late for her match.
Court 2: No 1 seed Dinara Safina of Russia
Court 1: No 5 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia
Johnny Perkins said court selection is 'a great big mixture of where the players are in the draw, who they're playing, what their ranking is.
But at the end of the day, box-office appeal has to be taken into consideration.
'It's not a coincidence that those (on Centre Court) are attractive.'
Babe, set and match! Looks count for more than talent when they decide which girls will play on Centre Court | Mail Online