Serena Williams has hit back at claims she snubbed Ash Barty following her incredible rise to the world number one position, saying she’s happy for the talented Aussie.
The tennis great came under fire last weekend after admitting she didn’t realise Barty had jumped up to the top spot, with the likes of Australian tennis player Sam Groth labelling her an “absolute disgrace”.
“Wow, that’s great,” the 23-times grand slam champion said, according to the news outlet.
In a column written for the Herald Sun, Groth later claimed that what Williams said was “pretty sh***y” and that she should have been aware of Barty’s success.
“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?” he queried. “It’s disgraceful and not a good look for your sport.”
Speaking out about the controversy in a post-match interview at Wimbledon, Williams described Barty as a “sweet person” and said she has been rooting for her all along.
“I don’t even know what he’s [Groth] talking about,” she replied to a reporter.
“I’m happy she’s number one, 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 the locker room that everyone roots for, including me.”
Meanwhile, the whole debacle hasn’t seemed to phase Barty as she cruises through Wimbledon, with the star admitting she’s not too concerned about what others have said about her rise to success.
“Serena hasn’t been at many of the tournaments lately so it’s not really something that I worry about,” the young Aussie said according to Nine News.
Barty has received much support from fellow Australians since her win, wowing all with her very humble speech after becoming the country’s first woman to be ranked world number one in 43 years.
The 23-year-old sporting star took the top spot after winning the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham in the UK, beating German tennis player Julia Goerges 6-3 7-5.
However, rather than speaking out about her own journey and happiness following the tense final, Barty shared her support for her friend and opponent in a very humble speech.
According to Yahoo Sport, she told an emotional Goerges: “I couldn’t think of a better person to share the court with.”
She added: “You’re one of my best friends on tour and you’ve been there for me since I was a little ‘tacker’.
“She’s the most incredible human being with the most amazing team.”