'Not fair': Ash Barty caught in ugly controversy with Margaret Court

Ash Barty, pictured here speaking to the media in Brisbane.
Should Margaret Court Arena be re-named in honour of Ash Barty? Image: Getty

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has responded to calls from Australians to change the name of Margaret Court Arena to honour Ash Barty.

Immediately after Barty announced her shock retirement from tennis on Wednesday, Aussies flocked to social media calling for the name change at Melbourne Park.

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Court is one of Australia's greatest tennis players but has lost a lot of public support in recent years over controversial comments regarding same sex marriage and transgender people.

Addressing the calls on Thursday, Mr Andrews said it was too early to be discussing a name change given Barty had only just retired.

“The naming of that stadium has been quite controversial," the Premier said.

"Let’s not take away from what is a celebration of an amazing tennis career by plunging headfirst into that debate."

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk earlier revealed that Barty has knocked back the offer of a statue of her in her home state.

“I’m not sure that she necessarily wants a stadium named after her. That’ll be driven by her,” Mr Andrews said.

“I reckon she might be much more interested in … promoting the next generation of young tennis players to come through rather than naming stadiums after herself.”

Margaret Court, pictured here with a replica Daphne Akhurst trophy on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open in 2020.
Margaret Court lifts a replica Daphne Akhurst trophy on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open in 2020. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Mr Andrews has previously condemned Court’s controversial opinions, but said the focus right now should be on celebrating Barty's career.

“I don’t think that we do her justice by diving into (that). That’s a separate issue," he said.

"That’s not fair on a wonderful career that we should celebrate.

"Let’s not dredge up that other debate that’s pretty controversial.”

Aussie great Pat Rafter agreed with Mr Andrews' sentiments, telling 3AW: “She doesn’t want all the hoo-ha that goes along with it.

"We all fell in love with her because she’s the girl next door and she’s never changed."

However Rafter said: “I think she’s really deserving of every stadium in Australia.”

Ash Barty coy on future plans after retirement

Speaking alongside coach Craig Tyzzer on Thursday, Barty revealed a wedding date with fiance Garry Kissick had been set but remained coy on her next career move.

Barty explained that winning the Australian Open wasn't essential before making her shock decision and that she had "never been a prisoner" to the profession she had already walked away from previously as a teenage prodigy.

"The Australian public allowed me to be myself. They allowed me to make mistakes. They allowed me to be imperfect," she said.

"It really did make that Australian Open so much more enjoyable for all of us to be able to go 'you know what, this is one last crack, let's see what we can do'.

"It was really cool."

Ash Barty and Craig Tyzzer, pictured here speaking to the media in Brisbane.
Ash Barty and Craig Tyzzer speak to the media in Brisbane. (Photo by PATRICK HAMILTON/AFP PHOTO/AFP via Getty Images)

Tyzzer admitted he wasn't surprised by Barty's decision, given she had cheekily asked if she could retire after her 2019 French Open victory and he noted that her limp Olympic singles campaign last year had been telling.

"After (winning) Wimbledon that was an obvious goal for us and once she achieved it and once we got to the Olympics, it sort of hit home for me that there wasn't much left in her," he said.

"The motivation wasn't there, except when she played doubles with Storm (Sanders) and mixed with John Peers, her singles really went by the wayside.

"She wasn't fussed.

"So I felt that she had climbed where she needed to get to and it was going to be a hard slog to keep her involved."

with AAP

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