Ashleigh Barty requests for Simona Halep to play Wimbledon opening match

Retired Wimbledon champion Ash Barty has made a classy gesture to her former rival Simona Halep, after requesting for the Romanian to open this year’s Wimbledon.

Historically, the opening match of the famous grass court event is played by the defending champion. Barty came away from SW19 last year with the title after defeating Karolina Pliskova in the 2021 final. The Australian star is of course not there this time around to open the tournament, after announcing her shock retirement from the sport earlier this year.

On the way to her 2021 title, Barty was the player to open Wimbledon due to the 2020 edition of the tournament being cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite receiving the honor, the humble Aussie star said this time last year that she wished Halep was the player to get the tournament underway.

After her opening round victory in 2021 over Carla Suarez Navarro Barty told the BBC : “With all my heart I wish Simo was here to do it [start on Centre Court] herself.

“She’s a champion. She’s earned the right to open this court. To be given the honor when I haven’t fully deserved it, I wanted to come out here and pay respect to that."

With Barty unable to take on the honor the argument on who will begin the tournament this time around has began, with Halep being backed by most. Responding to a post on Twitter on who should kick off the tournament in the Australian’s absence, Halep's former coach Darren Cahill said: “This should be Simona Halep. Covid wiped out the 2020 championships & unable to play last year due to injury so Ash Barty was given the honor. With Ash retired, the privilege and honor should go back to Simo. She has earned it as 2019 champ.”

And it seems, the Romanian star may get her wish, after Barty’s former coach Craig Tyzzer hinted that the reigning champion has already put in the request on behalf of Halep. Tyzzer responded to Cahill: “Totally agree Killer and I think someone may have already requested it.”

Back in April, All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt addressed the situation on who will open the tournament in Barty’s absence. The chairman gave no names, but did reveal it would be "the world No 1, runner-up or other prominent players."

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