Tennis: Australian network defends snub of world No. 1 Barty in Wimbledon opener after 'sexist' broadcast claims

Australia's Ashleigh Barty celebrates beating China's Zheng Saisai during their women's singles first round match at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships on July 2, 2019.
Australia's Ashleigh Barty celebrates beating China's Zheng Saisai during their women's singles first round match at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships on July 2, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Australian broadcaster Seven Network has defended its decision to televise Nick Kyrgios' first-round men's singles match rather than women's world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty's opener, after being hit with claims of "sexism" over its Wimbledon coverage.

Kyrgios' match with compatriot Jordan Thompson had been going for two hours before Barty started hers against China's Zheng Saisai, and the broadcaster stuck with the men's clash rather than switch over.

Fans on Twitter vented their frustration, with some claiming Seven's focus on world No. 43 Kyrgios' five-set win over Barty's straight-sets victory was "sexist".

The network, which flipped over to Barty's match just before she wrapped up her win, said it was a "difficult decision" but the ratings spoke for themselves.

"Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson were tied in the third set of a thrilling contest when Ash walked onto court," a Seven spokesman said in a statement.

"The massive audience ratings on 7TWO, which were comparable to a Wimbledon final, show how engaged Aussies were in the epic five-setter between Kyrgios and Thompson."

Kyrgios and Barty were asked by Australian reporters about the coverage but each sounded unfazed.

 

"If people can watch my matches, great. If they can't, they can't. That's up to the broadcasters, not me," French Open champion Barty said.

Kyrgios said he thought they would "probably show both, but I don't really have much to say about that".