WTA chief executive Steve Simon has defended Serena Williams' negative comments about the conditions at the ASB Classic, saying that players should be free to speak their minds.

At the same time Simon, probably the most powerful man in women's tennis, doesn't think her acerbic statements will have any adverse effects on the Auckland tournament's reputation.

After her shock second-round loss to lowly ranked compatriot Madison Brengle, a frustrated Williams didn't hold back with her feelings about the on-court environment.

Williams labelled the blustery conditions as the worst she had experienced in her 20-year career, added that it was nothing like Melbourne and implied that she couldn't wait to get out of town.


"Obviously, that was Serena's opinion and [players] need to speak freely to the press, that's why we open them up to you," Simon told the New Zealand Herald.

"You want to hear what is on their mind. There is always a balance.

"I think that Serena yesterday, clearly she was frustrated, she was very disappointed in the outcome of the match, and obviously there were difficult and frustrating conditions.

"It was a rough day for everybody yesterday. That's outdoor tennis as well."

Given Serena's status and fame, such comments have the potential to impact on the ASB Classic, but Simon downplayed that.

"I don't think it is going to have any adverse effects on the event and the perception among the player field on the event at all," added Simon. "Yesterday was a tough day and I think you had a frustrated athlete that didn't have a good day.

"She wanted to come back and play well after time away ... that's a tough day. It was just unfortunate."

Simon, a former tournament director at Indian Wells, who took over as WTA CEO in October 2015, was making his first visit to New Zealand.

He labelled the ASB Classic "a very special event" and was excited about the potential offered by the stadium redevelopment plans, including a roof.

However, Simon re-iterated that there was unlikely to be any exemptions to the current rules governing International level tournaments, which restricts events like Auckland's to one top 10 player per year.

"I don't see any change to that," said Simon. "It was to create a sense of fairness amongst all tournaments and to create the prizemoney level that reflects the level of top 10 players that are involved.

"It would be unfair to Brisbane this week, paying a million dollars prizemoney, to suddenly have this event have four or five of the top 10. That would be unfair for the athletes and the tournament."

In theory, the Auckland tournament could attract more top 10 players by increasing their prizemoney, but Simon said that the WTA was unlikely to sanction two Premier-level tournaments in the same week.

"We currently don't run two Premier events in one week," said Simon. "Anything is possible as you go forward, but I don't think it is the right thing to do.

"It's certainly something that could be considered and this is a unique week of the year, [but] I believe what we have right now is the correct way."​