Wimbledon ignores Ash Barty plea in controversial decision

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
French Open champion Iga Swiatek (pictured right) reacting after winning and (pictured left) Ash Barty with the Wimbledon trophy.
World No.1 and French Open champion Iga Swiatek (pictured right) will open proceedings at Wimbledon on Centre Court after Ash Barty's (pictured left) retirement. (Getty Images(

Ash Barty's call for 2019 champion Simona Halep to open proceedings on Centre Court in the 2022 Wimbledon Championships hasn't come to fruition, with World No.1 Iga Swiatek granted the honours instead.

Halep - the 2019 champion at the All England Club - was denied the tradition of opening play on Centre Court in the 2020 tournament due to the Covid-19 pandemic that saw it cancelled for the first time since World War II.

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Injury then ruled the Romanian champion out of the 2021 edition, presenting Barty with the honour of playing the first match on Centre Court that year.

The Aussie said she was humbled by the honour at the time, and felt bitterly disappointed for Halep that she didn't get to experience it herself.

Despite having retired, Barty seemingly weighed-in on the debate last week of who should open Wimbledon in 2022 in her absence.

According to her coach Craig Tyzzer, the 2021 champion said Halep should be afforded the honour because she was robbed of the opportunity due to the pandemic.

However, Barty's words didn't resonate with the All England Club as Wimbledon announced that World No.1 Swiatek will open proceedings against French player Jana Fett.

Swiatek is a deserving candidate and was always likely to play first on Centre Court.

However, the move still raised eyebrows with plenty in the tennis world - including Barty - wanting Halep to have her moment at Wimbledon.

According to reports, Wimbledon organisers were fearful that Halep would miss the grand slam again after she withdrew from the Bad Homburg Open on Friday with a neck injury.

However the move is likely a precautionary one to ensure the two-time grand slam champion is fit to take her place at Wimbledon.

Simona Halep, pictured here with with trophy after winning Wimbledon in 2019.
Simona Halep poses with trophy after winning Wimbledon in 2019. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

Ash Barty weighs-in on Wimbledon controversy

Last year, Barty was granted the honour of opening proceedings as the World No.1 while Halep was injured.

The Aussie expressed her sadness that Halep wasn't able to take her place as the defending champion.

“With all my heart I wish Simo was here to do it (start on Centre Court) herself,” Barty said after her opening round win over Carla Suarez Navarro.

“She’s a champion. She’s earned the right to open this court.

“To be given the honour when I haven’t fully deserved it, I wanted to come out here and pay respect to that.

“It’s an honour and a privilege and I was extremely humbled when Jamie (tournament director Baker) asked me to come out here and play on this beautiful court. I couldn’t be more proud to be out here.”

Following Barty's shock retirement earlier this year, The Tennis Podcast conducted an online poll to see who fans thought should be given the honour of opening Wimbledon in 2022.

Aussie tennis analyst and Halep’s former coach Darren Cahill replied to the tweet by insisting: “This should be Simona Halep.

"With Ash retired, the privilege and honour should go back to Simo. She has earned it as 2019 champ."

Barty's coach Tyzzer replied to Cahill's tweet and suggested that the Aussie champion had already put forward the same case to Wimbledon organisers.

“Totally agree Killer and I think someone may have already requested it,” Tyzzer wrote alongside a winking face emoji.

Needless to say, the decision to hand Swiatek the honour ahead of Halep hasn't sat well with fans.

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