By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – As a self-described woman of opinions, Madison Keys put her hand up for a place on the WTA Players’ Council at the Australian Open on Tuesday but the American number three has some work to do on her stump speech.
The former U.S. Open finalist was convincing in her 6-2 6-2 first round victory against local teenager Destanee Aiava at Rod Laver Arena and also in her determination to nominate for the players’ body.
“I have opinions. I actually — I really want to be on the player council this year, so hopefully people will vote for me,” the 23-year-old daughter of lawyer parents said.
“It’s something that I would really like to be a part of, and I think, you know, it’s our responsibility to help grow our own game, so I would like to be a part of that.
“But I think there are just a lot of different ways that I think we can grow the sport, more, bigger tournaments and all of that.
“I mean, I don’t want to be the typical political person who’s like, ‘I promise all these things’, and then you get in and you’re like, ‘Oh, wait, that’s not possible.’”
Under pressure from players, the WTA made a number of rule changes in December including allowing tour members returning from maternity leave to have protected rankings for up to three years.
Former world number one Serena Williams’ pregnancy shone the spotlight on women whose rankings had suffered while taking time off to have children.
A number of issues remain, including long-standing demands for gender equality in prize money.
Women get equal prizemoney to men at the Grand Slams but often earn less than men at other tournaments.
Keys, seeded 17th in Melbourne, said she would like to see the tour expand to “wherever fans want (players).”
She was less expansive as to why her colleagues should vote for her particularly, though.
“Because I’m really great,” she said, flashing her toothy smile.
“That’s all I’ve got so far.”
Keys, a 2015 semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, will play Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova for a place in the third round.
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)