Ash Barty has promised to be more vigilant in following coronavirus rules after she was seen shopping without a mask in Victoria.
It was reported by Sky News Australia that Barty had been seen inside a Coles supermarket in Melbourne without a mask - in breach of rules mandating their use inside shopping venues.
Barty’s manager told Sky News it was an ‘innocent mistake’ and that there would not be a repeat of the error.
The 24-year-old’s mistake comes at a slightly awkward time, soon after she had urged Australian Open rivals who are in hotel quarantine ahead of the tournament to keep the health and safety of Victorian residents at the front of their minds.
“We are so lucky in Australia to have a home grand slam; the support of the Australian fans means the world to me and I always want to do well here,’’ Barty told the Herald Sun.
“I understand this year will be different in many respects but I hope I can do the local fans proud.
“The circumstances around this year’s event are definitely challenging and I understand the frustration of all the players who have had to quarantine, but keeping Melburnians safe and making sure we put health first has to be the priority.”
#BREAKING .@ashbarty has apologised for not wearing a mask at a Melb supermarket & says it was an “innocent mistake”... it comes after she called on her intl tennis peers to put tough quarantine rules in perspective – declaring health should be the first priority. @SkyNewsAust
— Andrea Crothers (@abcrothers) January 21, 2021
Several players have complained about being unable to train after 10 positive coronavirus cases were detected about charter flights bringing players to Melbourne.
Players aboard those flights have been forced into strict quarantine, while others who were not on compromised flights have been allowed to partake in strictly organised training sessions.
Barty to start tennis summer in Adelaide
Barty will help to kickstart Australia's delayed summer of tennis, confirming she'll make her long-awaited return to the court in next week's star-studded exhibition event in Adelaide.
Out of action for 11 months, Australian world No.1 Barty seized the early opportunity to measure her readiness for the Australian Open, joining world No.2 Simona Halep, third-ranked Naomi Osaka and 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams in the women's field.
Called 'A Day at the Drive', the January 29 exhibition at Memorial Drive also features the top-three ranked men, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem plus teenage Italian world No.26 Jannick Sinner.
The field boast 67 grand slam singles titles between them.
Barty has been preparing in Melbourne since shifting from her Queensland base, while the other big names are on a modified lockdown in Adelaide, training up to five hours a day, and come out of quarantine the day before the event.
Barty, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals last year, hasn't played a tcompetitive match since she was a semi-finalist at the Qatar Open in February.
She skipped last year's US Open and the French Open, where she was set to defend her title, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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