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Venus accepts Murray’s five set challenge

MURRAY-WIMBLEDONTOKYO, September 29 – Former world number one Venus Williams has said she would have no issues with playing five sets at grand slam tournaments after Andy Murray’s recent call for equal match lengths in men’s and women’s tennis.

“Sure, not a problem,” the 33-year-old American told AFP at the just-ended Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, where she reached the semi-finals. “If we have to play best-of-three, we play best-of-three. If it’s best-of-five that’s fine too. Either way it’s not a problem.”

German Angelique Kerber echoed the seven-times grand slam singles champion’s sentiments, saying: “I think we are fit and strong enough to play five sets.”

However, Czech Petra Kvitova appeared less than thrilled at the prospect.

“I don’t know if I’m prepared for best-of-five matches,” the 2011 Wimbledon champion said on Saturday after beating Kerber in the Tokyo final.

“The top 50 are getting so much better and that’s why matches are so close now,” added the 23-year-old, after a tour-high 32nd three-set match of the season. “I’d need to work more on stamina and do more running to be able to play best-of-five.”

Murray suggested in a New York Times interview that either the men should drop to three sets or women should play over five in order to justify equal pay.

The women’s WTA tour chief Stacey Allaster Tuesday responded by telling AFP her players were “ready and willing” to play five sets at the four major tournaments.

Debate over equal playing time has increased now that women are paid the same as men at the slams.

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But the WTA pointed out that the grand slam tournaments would first have to request that the women play longer matches.

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