"Condescending": Former Aussie star doubles down on Serena Williams' criticism over Ash Barty comments

"Condescending": Former Aussie star doubles down on Serena Williams' criticism over Ash Barty comments

Former Australian tennis player Sam Groth has doubled down on his criticism of Serena Williams, calling the 23-time grand slam champion “condescending” for her comments on Ash Barty.

In a column for the Herald Sun published on Friday, Groth described Williams’ admission that she didn’t know Barty had become the world number one women's tennis player as an “absolute disgrace”.

He wrote: “Claiming she didn’t know Ash was number one – I don’t care if it was a genuine error or not. In fact, if it was genuine it’s actually worse.

“Talking about Ash as a nice person – which she is of course – but she’s the best tennis player in the world and you didn’t know it. She gave her no credit for the achievement.”

After Williams reacted with surprise to Groth’s rebuke, the 31-year-old Aussie took another aim at the American on Sports Sunday, slamming her as “condescending”.

“This is 100 per cent my opinion and I'll stand by it. If you’re an icon of your sport and you have the chance to pump up the future of the sport, the current world number one...” he said.

“She has the chance to say Ash was a fantastic tennis player, she’s a great person for the sport, but she didn’t. She called her ‘nice’ and ‘cute’ and didn’t acknowledge that she was the best player in the world, and I thought that honestly was pretty condescending.”

Groth compared Williams to Roger Federer, referring to the footage of the Swiss giving 15-year-old star Coco Gauff a handshake and words of encouragement.

“If you’re at the top of the sport, you want to win and you want to win titles and you want to leave a legacy; but it’s also about improving the sport for when you leave,” said Groth.

“I think Roger’s done an amazing job of doing that. I just think Serena could have done a little bit better job.”

In her pre-Wimbledon press conference on June 29, Williams said she was unaware that Ashleigh Barty was the world’s number one player.

“Wow, that’s great,” the 37-year-old said.

“I don’t know anyone that has anything negative to say about [Barty]. 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.”

Williams also said Barty could be Australia’s first Wimbledon singles winner since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.

Williams rejected Groth’s first comment that she was unsupportive of Barty.

“I don’t even know what he’s talking about,” she said. “I’m happy she’s no. 1. I don’t know anyone that isn’t … I think she’s just the one person in the locker room that everyone roots for, including me.”

While Barty said she had not seen Groth’s comments, she refused to criticise Williams. “Serena hasn’t been at many of the tournaments lately so it’s not really something that I worry about,” Barty said.