Ash Barty sent tennis fans wild after celebrating her Australian Open victory with a cold beer live on air – but one TV star took issue with the moment.
Former Australian Idol host James Mathison has faced backlash after calling out Ash Barty for drinking a beer following her epic Australian Open victory.
Barty sent tennis fans wild when she got stuck into a Corona live on air with Nine’s commentary team after her straight sets win over Danielle Collins on Saturday night.
The three-time grand slam champion, 25, encouraged the rest of the panel – which included close friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua and ex-tennis player Alicia Molik – to have a cold drink with her.
Earlier in the tournament she had vowed to hold off enjoying a lager until after the final.
Fans loved her “very Aussie” response to the extraordinary win, but Mathison claimed the moment was an example of Channel 9 ‘glorifying alcohol’.
“Our glorification and glamorisation of alcohol in this country is normalised to the point where we can’t even celebrate success without booze on live TV. It’s bizarre,” he wrote in a scathing tweet.
“Imagine if this was in Canada and the broadcaster hoisted a joint onto their new champion?”
Mathison’s controversial take sparked heated debate online.
“Looks like Ash quite enjoyed her beer. It was her best friend who offered it,” wrote one woman.
“Didn’t look or feel awkward to me, it’s a celebration after all,” added another.
Another said the moment was “a bit cringe” but suggested it was a good example of being able to “have a beer and ‘drink responsibly”.
“This is true and a good point,” Matthison replied.
“I think I was trying to highlight how booze, which has enormous health, economic and family impacts get lionised yet all other ‘drugs’, many less harmful are maligned.”
Mathison added to his opinion on Tuesday morning, praising Barty for being an “incredible role model” and questioning why “Channel 9 foisted the beer on her”.
“This is about our lionisation of alcohol and how that seeps into everything,” he wrote.
“It starts early. At 21 when we have to ‘skull a yardy’ to ‘why aren’t you drinking’ every time you decline. Yes adults can enjoy a drink responsibly. I have plenty of times. But we can also have a conversation about it’s all pervasive role in society.”
Tennis lovers were much less critical, taking to social media to praise Barty for enjoying a hard-earned drink with her close friends.
Mathison hosted Australian Idol for six seasons alongside Osher Gunsberg in the 2000s, but is understood to now work at an Amazon distribution warehouse in Sydney’s northern beaches after a brief foray into politics.
In a rare insight into his private life, the married father-of-two revealed he turned his back on fame because he found it “hollow and dangerous”.
“Say you’re a plumber or an accountant and you lose your job, you go to Seek and look for another job. Try doing that when you’re a radio [or TV] presenter,” he told the told the You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere podcast in 2017.
“Every time I left the house, people would be like ‘oh my god’ and want to talk about the show, which was amazing.
“I reckon for about two weeks, you’re like, ‘How s**t hot am I?’ Then very quickly you’re like, ‘This is messed up’. It’s a bit of a head f**k, all of a sudden people knowing who you are.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining about it, because it was an extraordinary experience, but it’s also something that I’d never encourage anyone to want. You feel like you’ve got a deformity.
“It makes you feel like a freak. I was just on a popular show. I hadn’t earned anything, I hadn’t created anything.
“I think the idea that any of your self-worth is tied to your success in this industry is vacuous and so dangerous.”