Australian Open cops backlash over brutal move towards top Aussie women's player

The No.1 Australian female tennis player Arina Rodionova has been snubbed in the first round of wildcards for the Australian Open.

Pictured left Arina Rodionova and right Rodionova with fellow Australian Daria Saville
Tennis Australia has come under fire after its first set of wildcards for the 2024 Australian Open ignored the country’s top-ranked female tennis player, Arina Rodionova. Image: Getty

Australian Open officials have come under fire for snubbing Australia's current No.1 female tennis player, Arina Rodionova, in the first round of wildcards. Rodionova was ranked as low as 350th in the world in February but registered an impressive 78 victories from 104 matches in 2023, to reach world No.112 in the year-end rankings.

Despite her impressive run of form, the 33-year-old was overlooked on Wednesday by Tennis Australia, meaning her path to this year's Australian Open is likely through qualifying. Of the seven wildcards handed out so far, six Aussies were given a spot in the tournament along with former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.

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Aussies Kimberly Birrell, Olivia Gadecki, Taylah Preston, James Duckworth, Marc Polmans and Adam Walton all received a wildcard and there is only one wildcard Tennis Australia has left to give for this year's Aussie Open. To get a spot at Melbourne Park, Rodionova will either need to be granted that wildcard place or go through qualifying to earn a place in the main draw at Melbourne Park.

"Rodionova wasn’t given a wildcard in the initial batch, which seems way harsh for a country’s No.1," veteran tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg shared on X. Other Aussies who also failed to secure a wildcard in the first round include doubles world No.1 Storm Hunter, Daria Saville and Astra Sharma. The overlooking of Rodionova left Aussie tennis fans shocked and they quickly took to social media to voice their anger.

Caroline Wozniacki headlines wildcard recipients

Wozniacki came out of retirement last summer after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus, during which she had two children. The former world No.1 and 2018 Australian Open champion was the highest-profile player to receive a wildcard.

The Dane retired after the 2020 tournament in Melbourne before making her comeback to tennis in June this year. "I have so many wonderful memories of Melbourne, and of course winning the Australian Open is an all-time career highlight," Wozniacki said in a statement upon the announcement of her wildcard.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - AUGUST 08: Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark reacts to defeating Kimberly Birrell of Australia in the first round on Day 2 of the National Bank Open Montréal at Stade IGA on August 08, 2023 in Montreal, Quebec (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)
Caroline Wozniacki came out of retirement last summer after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus, during which she had two children. Image: Getty

"Coming back to my favourite slam as a new mum - and bringing my two kids - will be a huge thrill. The whole family is so excited. I'm truly grateful to everyone for the wildcard and having the opportunity to compete again at the AO in January."

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