Tennis: Williams sisters happy as women are given centre stage at Wimbledon early on

US player Venus Williams celebrates after beating Romania's Alexandra Dulgheru on the third day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 4, 2018.
US player Venus Williams celebrates after beating Romania's Alexandra Dulgheru on the third day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 4, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Venus Williams said she was "overjoyed" that the Wimbledon organisers gave women the spotlight on the tournament's main show courts on Wednesday.

Five of the seven matches on Centre Court and Court No. 1 on day three were women's singles, although one of them was a late change after the Centre Court programme ended early.

It did not escape the attention of five-time champion Williams, who beat Romanian qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru on Court No. 1 to move into the third round.

"I was really overjoyed when I saw the schedule for today. We have a lot of equal play on the main courts in the other three Grand Slams," the American veteran said.

"It was just fantastic to see Wimbledon also follow suit. It's wonderful to hopefully have that continue, to have equal for the men and the women."

Wimbledon has come under fire in the past for sending top women's seeds, including 38-year-old Venus and younger sister Serena, out to the smaller courts.

While the club said there has not been a change in policy, women's matches have outnumbered men's on the biggest courts so far at this year's tournament.

Seven-time champion Serena beat Bulgarian qualifier Viktoriya Tomova on Centre Court on Wednesday, having opened on Monday against Arantxa Rus on Court One.

She echoed her sister's sentiments.

"I think it's wonderful," the 36-year-old said. "For so many years it was just two men's, one women's.

"Now it's several women out there playing. I think it's a great opportunity. Just really proud to be here and play at a tournament that can recognise that."

Thursday's Centre Court and Court No. 1 programme favours the men, however, although three-time champion Novak Djokovic will find himself on Court No. 2.

Of the seven matches scheduled for the two main show courts on day four, including Marin Cilic's unfinished second-round clash with Guido Pella, only two are women's singles.

Top seed Simona Halep will play Zheng Saisai on Court No. 1 while home hope Johanna Konta plays Dominica Cibulkova on Centre Court after Rafa Nadal opens the programme.