Ash Barty is set to strut her stuff on the big stage.
Ash Barty is set to strut her stuff on the big stage.

Barty blockbuster avenges harsh snub

Ash Barty will make her first appearance on Centre Court at Wimbledon as the world No. 1 after finally being granted the opportunity to grace the main stage in round three.

The Aussie star will play British wildcard Harriet Dart on the most iconic court in tennis at 1pm local time on Saturday (10pm AEST) to start off the day's action at the famous venue.

She'll be followed by Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who have beaten Australians Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic en route to the third round, while Roger Federer will be back in familiar territory for his clash against Frenchman Lucas Pouille.

The move comes after Wimbledon organisers overlooked Barty for Centre Court privileges in rounds one and two despite her being the top seed and best female player in the world - a call that left some tennis fans baffled.

But Barty wasn't concerned, saying after her straight sets win over Alison Van Uytvanck on Court No. 2 she was happy to play anywhere at the All England Club.

"If I got to play on Centre Court it would be incredible, it really would. It's one of the most beautiful courts in the world," she said.

"But I'll play wherever I'm scheduled. There's not a bad court here at Wimbledon. They're all very special in their own right, they're all very beautiful and I certainly enjoyed playing on Court 2.

"It was really nice to hear some Aussies out there and to get some support, it was incredible."

Barty hasn't played on Centre Court at Wimbledon since her doubles final there in 2013 when she partnered Casey Dellacqua.

Barty will play where she belongs on Saturday.
Barty will play where she belongs on Saturday.

On Thursday, tournament organisers prioritised a local flavour that prevented Barty from getting a gig on Centre Court. British star and world No. 55 Cameron Norrie lost in straight sets to Japan's Kei Nishikori, while the UK's top ranked female Johanna Konta, seeded 19th, defeated Czech Katerina Siniakova.

Kyrgios and Nadal finished off the Centre Court action for the day, going for a wild ride as Nadal emerged victorious 6-3 3-6 7-6 7-6.

Barty secured the No. 1 ranking by winning the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham in the lead-up to the year's third grand slam and is hoping to win back-to-back majors in London after triumphing at the French Open last month to secure her maiden grand slam singles title.

But while the reigning Roland Garros champion ascended to the top of the WTA rankings, it was a fact that escaped Serena Williams, who didn’t know that was the case until she was told by reporters during a pre-Wimbledon press conference.

Retired Australian star Sam Groth wrote a column for the Herald Sun in which he slammed Williams’ response as an “absolute disgrace”, but the American legend maintained she’d done nothing wrong.

“I don’t even know what he’s talking about,” Williams said when asked about Groth’s comments. “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.”

Barty also didn’t pay much attention to Groth’s stunning swipe, saying: “Serena hasn’t been at many of the tournaments lately so it’s not really something that I worry about.”

But while the reigning Roland Garros champion ascended to the top of the WTA rankings, it was a fact that escaped Serena Williams, who didn't know that was the case until she was told by reporters during a pre-Wimbledon press conference.

Retired Australian star Sam Groth wrote a column for the Herald Sun in which he slammed Williams' response as an "absolute disgrace", but the American legend maintained she'd done nothing wrong.

"I don't even know what he's talking about," Williams said when asked about Groth's comments. "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."

Barty also didn't pay much attention to Groth's stunning swipe, saying: "Serena hasn't been at many of the tournaments lately so it's not really something that I worry about."


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