Serena Williams and Ash Barty have both responded to scathing comments from Sam Groth about Serena’s treatment of the Aussie World No.1.
On Wednesday, Groth described Serena’s admission that she didn’t know Barty was World No.1 as an ‘absolute disgrace’ in an exclusive column for the Herald Sun.
“I thought Serena Williams’ reaction to Ash Barty becoming world No.1 last week was an absolute disgrace,” Groth wrote.
“I don’t think what Ash has achieved in recent weeks has actually had the recognition it deserves from a lot of people, but as one of the biggest names in tennis, what Serena said was pretty s***ty.
“You’re the one of the most recognisable athletes on the planet and you can’t tell me who the number one player in your sport is? It’s disgraceful and not a good look for your sport.”
However Serena has now hit back, gobsmacked by Groth’s criticism.
“I don’t even know what he’s talking about,” Serena said at Wimbledon on Thursday.
“I’m happy she’s No. 1. I don’t know anyone that isn’t.
“She’s such a sweet person. I don’t know. I think she’s just the one person in the locker room that everyone roots for, including me.”
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Barty also defended Serena.
“Serena hasn’t been at many of the tournaments lately so it’s not really something that I worry about,” she said.
Serena’s original comments
On Saturday, Serena said she wasn't aware Barty had become No.1 until being told at her pre-Wimbledon press conference.
However she did say she was happy for Barty and was gushing in her appraisal of the Queenslander's game.
"Wow, that's great," the 23-times grand slam champion said.
"I think Ash, I don't know anyone that has anything negative to say about her. She's like the sweetest, cutest girl on tour. She's so nice.
"She has the most beautiful game, such classic shots. I mean, she does everything right. Her technique is, like, flawless.
"Obviously I'm happy for her. Yeah, it's good. It's good for her."
The American superstar endorsed Barty as a genuine chance of becoming Australia's first Wimbledon singles champion since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.