Iga Swiatek speaks out after 'disgusting' drama at Wimbledon

Iga Swiatek, pictured here speaking to reporters at Wimbledon.
Iga Swiatek has addressed the controversy surrounding the decision to give her the honour of playing first on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Image: Getty/Wimbledon

Iga Swiatek has spoken out after controversy erupted over the decision to hand her the honour of playing first on Centre Court at Wimbledon in the absence of Ash Barty.

Wimbledon tradition dictates that the defending champion opens play on Centre Court the following year.

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However the 2021 women's champion is Aussie star Barty, who has since retired from tennis.

With Barty gone, debate erupted over who should be handed the honour of opening play on Centre Court - with 2019 champion Simona Halep the popular option.

Halep missed out on the honour in 2020 because Wimbledon was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and she then missed the 2021 tournament due to injury.

Barty was given the honour in 2021 in Halep's absence, with the Aussie star going on to win the grass-court grand slam.

But with Barty now out of the picture, there is no defending champion to open play on Centre Court in 2022.

Many thought the logical option would be to hand the honour back to Halep given she won Wimbledon most recently out of all current players, plus the fact she never got to do it in 2020 or 2021.

Simona Halep, pictured here after beating Serena Williams in the final to win Wimbledon in 2019.
Simona Halep beat Serena Williams in the final to win Wimbledon in 2019. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

But organisers caused controversy on Saturday when they announced that World No.1 Swiatek would play first on Centre Court.

While Swiatek is a worthy choice given her incredible run of form this year, many felt that Halep had been unfairly snubbed.

Speaking on Sunday, the Polish star said: "I know that there have been some discussions about who should open, and I feel really privileged that I've been chosen.

"There are many players here who have won Wimbledon and had a great tournament. I wasn't expecting that because still I only made it to the fourth round last year and that's my best result.

"I feel privileged and proud of myself mostly. Hopefully it's going to be a good show."

Iga Swiatek, pictured here practicing at the All England Club ahead of Wimbledon.
Iga Swiatek practices at the All England Club ahead of Wimbledon. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Wimbledon sparks anger with Simona Halep snub

Wimbledon organisers even went against the wishes of Barty by handing the honour to Swiatek.

According to coach Craig Tyzzer, Barty had suggested that Halep replace her in opening Centre Court.

Responding to a tweet from Halep's former coach Darren Cahill that he believed Halep should get the honour, Tyzzer wrote: “Totally agree Killer and I think someone may have already requested it."

Tyzzer added a winking face emoji, clearly referencing the fact that Barty had put Halep's name forward.

Speaking in 2021 about taking Halep's place, Barty said: “With all my heart I wish Simo was here to do it herself.

“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.”

The decision to ignore Barty's plea about Halep and give the honour to Swiatek hasn't gone down well in the tennis world.

American great Andy Roddick tweeted: "This should be Halep", while some fans labelled the decision 'disgusting' and 'disgraceful'.

According to reports, organisers weren't convinced that Halep would be able to play Wimbledon at all after she withdrew from the Bad Homburg Open on Friday with a neck complaint.

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