Tennis star Jelena Ostapenko cops backlash over 'savage' act

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·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
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Jelena Ostapenko gave a brutally honest assessment of opponent Rebecca Marino at the Birmingham Classic, putting off a few fans. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images for LTA)
Jelena Ostapenko gave a brutally honest assessment of opponent Rebecca Marino at the Birmingham Classic, putting off a few fans. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images for LTA)

World No.16 Jelena Ostapenko has copped criticism from tennis fans after what many have considered to be an overly frank response to a question about a recent opponent.

The 25-year-old Latvian had a tougher time than expected in her first round match at the Birmingham Classic, requiring three sets to eventually overcome Canadian challenger Rebecca Marino.

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Ostapenko eventually proved too strong, but her assessment of the 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 victory raised the eyebrows of many in the tennis world.

Getting good matches in the lead up the Wimbledon is crucial for any player, but Ostapenko clearly seemed to have one eye looking ahead throughout her match against Marino.

Asked about what the Canadian had done to win a hard fought second set in her post game interview, Ostapenko appeared to be surprisingly dismissive of her opponent.

Whether something was lost in translation or otherwise, Ostapenko said 107th ranked Marino 'didn't really do anything' and her biggest obstacle had been herself.

“The biggest opponent to me was myself because I played really well until 6-2, 5-1. She didn’t really do anything. She didn’t change anything until that score then I started to fight against myself," Ostapenko said after the match.

"I started to miss some balls but I’m glad I won because my level is way better than hers today and I showed it.

"The main thing she has is the serve. And once you get her into into the rally - I think I won like 95 percent of the points.

"Just the challenge was to return her serve."

The response to Ostapenko's surprising comments was mixed, with some fans appreciating the brutally honest take while other felt it wasn't the most classy way to speak about an opponent.

Some said her comments had elicited some groans from those in the crowd who had stuck around to hear what she had to say.

Despite winning her two sets comfortably, it wasn't just in the second set that Ostapenko struggled to find her rythmn.

She dropped an early break in the opening set to fall behind 0-2 before responding with three consecutive breaks of her own to win.

Serena Williams set for stunning Wimbledon comeback

As the rest of the compeition continues to prepare for Wimbledon later this month, tennis legend Serena Williams has declared she is ready to get back on the court.

The 23-time grand slam singles champion made a tearful exit in the first round 12 months ago after withdrawing during the first set due to a leg injury.

She had not applied to play using her protected ranking so was not on the initial players' list.

But on Tuesday, Williams posted on Instagram: "SW and SW19. It's a date. 2022 See you there."

"SW" are her initials, of course, and "SW19" is the UK postal code for Wimbledon.

Wimbledon responded by granting the American great a wild-card entry for singles, bringing forward by 24 hours their planned release date.

After a nearly a year away from tennis, Serena Williams has announced she will return at Wimbledon later this month. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
After a nearly a year away from tennis, Serena Williams has announced she will return at Wimbledon later this month. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

It was then revealed Williams would make her comeback at the Eastbourne event, playing doubles with Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, to gain some grasscourt practice.

"I am excited to return to the Rothesay International Eastbourne in England and to be back on the grass - a surface that has been so good to me throughout my career," said Williams.

"Eastbourne has a unique charm that you don't see anywhere else on tour and I'm looking forward to playing in front of the fans again."

Williams may be ranked a lowly 1208, but she has won seven singles championships at Wimbledon, most recently in 2016, and reached the final in 2018 and 2019 (the tournament was cancelled in 2020 because of COVID-19).

Five British players were also given wildcards with two other places to be announced.

Seven of the eight men's wild-card berths were also confirmed, including one for three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka.

With AAP

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