SYDNEY (Reuters) – World number one Ash Barty has been nominated by the Richmond Tigers to present them with the Australian Football League (AFL) championship trophy if they win this weekend’s “Grand Final” in her home city of Brisbane.
Barty, who elected to remain at home in Queensland this year rather than compete at the U.S. and French Opens because of health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, is a lifelong supporter of the Melbourne-based Australian Rules team.
The Tigers will play the Geelong Cats for the AFL title in front of 30,000 fans at Brisbane’s Gabba on Saturday as the title decider is played outside Melbourne for the first time in its history because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was surprised and very honoured (when I was asked) to present the cup. I know there are many other Richmond people who would normally do this but given the circumstances I am very grateful for the opportunity,” Barty said in a news release.
“I wish the boys all the best for Saturday and very much hope I have the chance to be out there when the siren goes celebrating another Richmond premiership.”
TV pictures of Barty cheering on the Tigers with a beer in her hand in a match against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba earlier this month got plenty of attention on social media Down Under.
Barty has not played a competitive tennis match since February but remains top of the world rankings under an adjustment introduced by the WTA because of the disruption to the calendar caused by the global health crisis.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)