Ash Party is said to be hoping 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep can play the opening match of this year’s tournament, having restored things in 2021.
Photo: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Retired Wimbledon champion Ash Party has made an elegant nod to former rival Simona Halep, after asking the Romanian to open this year’s Wimbledon. Historically, the defending champion plays the opening match of the popular grasscourt event.
Barty knocked out SW19 last year with the title after defeating Karolina Pliskova in the 2021 final. The Australian star is of course not here to open the tournament, after announcing her sudden retirement from the sport earlier this year.
En route to the 2021 title, Barty was the player to open Wimbledon due to the cancellation of the 2020 edition of the tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite receiving the accolade, the humble Australian star said this time last year that she wishes Halep could be the player who kicks off the tournament. After winning the opening round of 2021 over Carla Suarez, Navarro-Party told the BBC: “With all my heart I wish Simo would be here to do it. [start on Centre Court] itself.
“She’s a heroine. I got the right to open this court. To have this honor when I didn’t fully deserve it, I wanted to come out here and have respect for it.” With Halep supported by most.
In response to a Twitter post about who should start the tournament in the Australian’s absence, former Halep coach Darren Cahill said: “You should be Simona Halep. Covid eliminated the 2020 Championship and was unable to play last year due to injury, so Ash Party was awarded the honor. With Ash retired, the privilege and honor must return to Simo. She earned it as the 2019 Champion.”
And it looks like the Romanian star might get her wish, after former Party coach Craig Tezer hinted that the champ had already applied on Halep’s behalf. Tyzzer replied to Cahill: “I totally agree with Killer and I think someone has already requested it.”
Back in April, All England Club president Ian Hewitt spoke on the situation over who would open the tournament in Barty’s absence. The chairman did not name names, but revealed that he would be “the world’s number one, runner-up or other outstanding player”.