World number eight Maria Sharapova has laughed off controversial comments that were made by Latvian Ernests Gulbis on Friday.
Social networking sites were full of criticism for Gulbis, who claimed that he didn’t want his younger sisters to become tennis players because women are supposed to think about having fun before having kids.
He said after beating Czech Radek Stepanek in the third round of the French Open: “I wouldn't like my sisters to become professional tennis players. It's a tough choice of life. A woman needs to enjoy life a little bit more. Needs to think about family, needs to think about kids.”
Sharapova responded to those comments, which have been called by some “sexist”, by saying that she is not taking them seriously and that they should be taken as more of a joke above anything else.
Sharapova said: “I mean, I don’t think we can take everything serious when he speaks. I mean, let’s be honest with that.
“I think he’s great entertainment and we love to listen to what he has to say. But, I mean, of course, you have different opinions. In a way, I think he was joking, but he’s playing the sport, so how bad can it be? If he felt so bad about it, an even if he’s a male, I don’t think he’d be playing it.”
The idea that women should not be on the tour is not something that the four-time Grand Slam winner agrees with, as she admitted she has no regrets about her own career.
“I think the sport brings so many opportunities to women. I mean, it’s brought me so many things into my life and my career. I don’t regret any step that I have taken.
“I mean, but then, on the other hand, sometimes I wake up and think, well, I don’t want this on my kids.
“But then when I’m paying the matches, I’m in front of thousands of people and the experience that this sports brings, I think, of course I want my kids to do this. This is such a huge lesson in life.
The 27-year-old was speaking ahead of her own third round match at the tournament, where she will be facing Argentinian Paula Ormaechea, after beating Ksenia Pervak and Tsvetana Pirokova in the opening two rounds.
It will be the first meeting between the pair, and at the age of 21, there will be an element of the unknown when Sharapova comes up against the world number 75.
Garbine Muguruza, who caused a shock at Roland Garros by defeating number one seed and defending champion Serena Williams in the second round, dismissed Gulbis’ remarks, and feels that every female player should be given the freedom to play for as long as she wants before starting a family.
The 20-year-old Spaniard said: “You play tennis until you want, when you feel you want to make another things, have babies or have a family, then you can do it. You play until you want to play.”
World number 17 Gulbis has been involved with controversy on a number of occasions, as he once described the leading male tennis players as “boring”, including Swiss Roger Federer, who he is scheduled to play in the fourth round of Roland Garros on Sunday.
The 25-year-old was arrested in 2009 for soliciting with prostitutes, though he was not charged, and he later refered to the situation as being “a very funny time.”
His victory over Stepanek ended a six-year wait for him to reach the last sixteen of a Grand Slam, as his last appearance at that stage of a major came in the same tournament in 2008, where he reached the quarter-finals before losing to Novak Djokovic.
But Gulbis has enjoyed an upturn in form since the start of 2013, as he has risen in the world rankings from 136 to 17 since the start of 2013, as he has finally started to build on the promise he showed at the start of his career.
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