'Do not dare': TV icon's Ash Barty beer rant sparks uproar

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Seen on the left is former Aussie TV host James Mathison and Australian Open champ Ash Barty on the right.
James Mathison has sparked debate after criticising Channel Nine for glorifying alcohol by offering Ash Barty a beer after her Australian Open title triumph. Pic: Getty/Ch9

Former Aussie TV star James Mathison has sent the internet into a frenzy after calling out Australian Open host broadcaster Channel Nine over a beer stunt involving Ash Barty.

Barty defeated American Danielle Collins 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) in the final to become the first home winner of the Australian Open since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

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The momentous occasion certainly called for celebration and the production crew at Nine obliged by offering the 25-year-old a beer afterwards, while she was chatting with host James Bracey and former tennis stars Casey Dellacqua and Alicia Molik.

Barty had famously vowed to hold off having a beer until after the tournament was finished and Nine decided it was the opportune time to toast her success on live television.

Many fans loved the moment and insisted it showed the down-to-earth side of Barty that has endeared the Aussie to fans around the world.

However, former Australian Idol host Mathison argued that it only helped to glamorise alcohol and sent the wrong message to youngsters watching at home.

“Our glorification and glamorisation of alcohol in this country is normalised to the point where we can’t even celebrate success without booze on live TV. It’s bizarre,” Mathison posted on Twitter.

“Imagine if this was in Canada and the broadcaster hoisted a joint onto their new champion?”

After the initial backlash from his controversial take, Mathison offered a follow-up point to explain his concern.

“I think I was trying to highlight how booze, which has enormous health, economic and family impacts get lionised yet all other ‘drugs’, many less harmful are maligned.”

On Tuesday morning, the former TV star hailed Barty for being an “incredible role model” but again questioned why “Channel 9 foisted the beer on her”.

“This is about our lionisation of alcohol and how that seeps into everything,” he wrote.

“It starts early. At 21 when we have to ‘skull a yardy’ to ‘why aren’t you drinking’ every time you decline. Yes adults can enjoy a drink responsibly. I have plenty of times. But we can also have a conversation about it’s all pervasive role in society.”

Mathison's comments certainly sparked plenty of debate on social media.

"I quit drinking and I don't find what Barty did offensive in any way," one user wrote on Twitter.

"If she cracked a tinny mid game, sure, that wouldn't be a good look, but having a cold beer to celebrate is no different to an F1 driver drinking from a magnum champagne bottle, where was his anger then?"

Another added: "FFS ⁦@jamesmathison after all that happened last week, you thought it was clever to tell a woman, a champion and picture of dignity, how to behave?"

Legend's staggering Ash Barty prediction

One man who only had positive things to say about Ash Barty after the Australian Open final was seven-time major winner Mats Wilander, who liked the Aussie to Roger Federer and tipped her to go on and win 10 more grand slam titles.

"The whole history of Australian tennis can change with someone like Ash Barty, who just transcends the sport, taking it into every living room," Wilander said on Eurosport.

"We could have some serious champions coming out in 15, 20 years from Australia because of this day," he added, after watching Barty become the first home hope in 44 years to lift the women's singles title with her victory over Danielle Collins.

"What it's done for the course of the tennis nation is so important. Because, obviously, there are young boys and girls who are watching this and when she's that nice, the parents will definitely want to push their kids into tennis."

Pictured left is Aussie tennis star Ash Barty alongside Swiss legend Roger Federer.
Ash Barty has been tipped to change tennis in a similar way to the great Roger Federer. Pic: Getty

Wilander believes that Barty is a "game changer" in terms of the technical development of her sport too, believing that her all-round skills are so good that others will have to play catch-up, just as others had to pursue 20-time major champion Federer.

"She can win 10 more slams in my book," said Wilander.

"She's going to take the women's game to the next level because we're not talking about a Serena Williams who just blows you off the court.

"With Ash Barty, you're going to have this problem that she's taking tennis to the next level just like Roger Federer did.

with agencies

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