There are 50 countries represented at the US Open, yet tennis organisers said on Wednesday they do not have a problem with players unable to give interviews in English — unlike the LPGA Tour.
Nick Imison, director of communications for the International Tennis Federation, said there has been no need for the sort of initiative taken recently by the U.S. women’s golf circuit requiring players to be able to speak English.
“There isn’t an issue at this year’s U.S. Open of players not speaking
English, and those that don’t speak English fluently still attempt to speak enough English to be able to conduct press conferences in that language,” he said.
The WTA Tour, in a statement, said it is “not considering any language programmes along the lines of what has been reported for the LPGA.”
Gina Clement, a senior communications manager for the women’s tennis tour, added: “It has not been an issue. The girls seem to pick up English pretty quickly.”
Golfweek magazine reported that South Korean golfers were told at a mandatory meeting last week that from 2009 all players who have been on the LPGA Tour for two years must pass an oral English test or face a suspension.
There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the U.S.-based LPGA Tour, including 45 from South Korea alone.
“For an athlete to be successful today in the sports entertainment world we live in, they need to be great performers on and off the course,” LPGA deputy commissioner Libba Galloway told the New York Times.
RUSSIAN WORLD number five Nikolay Davydenko, who tries his best to conduct post-match interviews in English, is sympathetic to athletes struggling with a new language.
“If you’re pressured to say you need in two years to speak Russia or speak Chinese, what can you do? You can’t,” Davydenko said after his first-round win on Wednesday against Israel’s Dudi Sela. “Some guys, it’s difficult.”
Newly crowned world number one Rafael Nadal of Spain, for instance, spoke through a translator in his first couple of years on the tour but now conducts his interviews in English. “I know you need to speak English. I know I need to speak with everyone familiar in English,” Davydenko said. “But maybe we also need translator.”