AO 2018 – What’s happening off the court?

Deepti Narwani Deepti Narwani

As the Australian Open gets underway in Melbourne, Deepti Narwani takes a look at some of the things that have been happening off the beaten track.

Trophy Controversy

With defending champion Serena Williams sitting out of the 2018 Australian Open, it was Maria Sharapova who carried the coveted women’s trophy during the draw on Thursday.

However, not everyone was supportive of this decision.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley defended the decision to invite Sharapova to the draw ceremony.

“We wanted to have a former champion,” he said. “We were happy she accepted our invite. The adjudication has occurred on that (the drugs ban). Maria deserved the opportunity,”Tiley stated.

Angelique Kerber and Sharapova are the only former Australian Open champions taking part in the 2018 edition. But with Kerber competing in Sydney, Tiley was thrilled to have Sharapova at the draw.

Venus Plus One?

Venus Williams who is extremely coy about her personal life has recently been spotted with millionaire Nicholas Hammond.

Hammond, a wealthy financier, is 12 years younger than Williams.

One of their first public outings was at the 2017 US Open where he was seated in her family’s box. This has left many wondering as to whether Hammond will be supporting his lady Down Under in Australia.

Novak Djokovic’s Favourite Memory

While announcing his new partnership with Asics Tennis, Novak Djokovic was asked about his favourite Australian Open memory.

Djokovic quickly stated that it was the 2012 final where he claimed victory after a gruelling 5 hour 53 minute match – the longest final in grand slam history.

Family or Tennis?

Wins are indeed great but family will always be number one for reigning champion Roger Federer.

Feeling Wild

Amidst his intense training Rafael Nadal managed to take some time off and visit the Victoria Zoo.

Doesn’t that rhinoceros look ready for the Australian Open?

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