Tennis commentators have weighed in on whether it was appropriate for world number one Ash Barty’s newborn niece Olivia to front the media pack.
After the fan favourite suffered a shock loss to USA’s Sofia Kenin in their Australian Open semi-final match on Thursday, Barty attended her post-match conference with her newborn niece in her lap.
While some tennis fans thought the gesture was heartwarming, others thought it was inappropriate.
Speaking on The Tennis Podcast, BBC tennis commentator David Law said Barty should have been the only member of the family to face the media.
“I don’t think the baby should have been in there,” he said.
“I think it is a place of work, it’s an office space. We are there to ask questions and, as lovely a sight as it was on one hand, it’s not really what’s supposed to go on.”
On the same podcast, tennis analyst Matt Roberts said using the 11-week-old baby “felt like a deflection” and a “prop” to avoid being asked tough questions.
Sports broadcaster Catherine Whitaker agreed, joking the baby was used as a “human shield”.
“She just thinks, ‘This is a distraction for me’ but the thing is, it’s also a distraction for everybody else and that’s not very helpful,” she said.
“It’s not appropriate in the workplace, I don’t think that makes her a terrible person for doing it — somebody should have stopped her doing it, probably.
“I don’t know what the circumstances are but it was really weird.”
The trio also thought while it was “healthy” for Barty to show she was not going to allow one result to affect her mood, Whittaker said she would have preferred to see more visible heartbreak from the top seed.
“Is there such a thing as too much perspective? I mean, it’s okay to be gutted for a bit,” she said.
Roberts added: “She didn’t seem too gutted in her rather bizarre press conference.”
The trio also discussed whether Barty was hurting more than what she let on but a tweet she posted on Thursday night suggests the Aussie was in high spirits.