There’s a strong Dubai connection to the ongoing Sofia Open in Bulgaria run by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the governing body of the men’s professional tennis circuits.
This is for the first time, an all-female chair umpire team, including the ATP supervisor, tournament director, referee and chief of umpires, was assigned to an ATP Tour event.
Tournament Director Kay Godkhindi, who is of Indian origin and holds an Australian passport, grew up in Dubai and went to college in the USA.
She told Khaleej Times from Sofia about the exciting aspect of the event.
“Truth be told, we had no clue about history being made in front of our eyes. At the end of the day, it’s a sport where gender is of little consequence. Besides, gender doesn’t define an individual’s capabilities. However, it’s a wonderful concept to have equal opportunity in both the ATP and the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) and empowering women as and when possible is a step towards the right direction,” she said while lavishing praise on ATP for championing the gender cause.
Tennis has had several prominent female officials, including those officiating in men’s matches, for several decades.
Anne Lasserre, who is the ATP Supervisor for the ATP 250 in Sofia, is the gender-bender pioneer.
“I think it’s an honour as well to be the first female. I worked as a chair umpire for the ATP a long time ago,” Lasserre said.
“I think things and the situation are evolving, which I think is a good thing. It’s an honour, I’m proud of it…
“It’s good to think about the future and being able to break this glass ceiling and give this opportunity to other females to do the same job as we do in every sport,” she told atptour.com.
ATP Senior Director of Officiating Administration Ali Nili told atptour.com: “The ATP Officiating Department prioritises high performance and a diverse officiating team. The tournament in Sofia is an example of our successful efforts in that direction. While the road to progress is long, we are proud of the direction we are heading, and the future seems bright.”