‘Really disturbing’: The bizarre way ‘Courtside Bar’ hecklers got under Aus Open star’s skin
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was bundled out of the Australian Open in straight sets at the hands of Paula Badosa – but before departing the tournament, the Russian veteran had surely the strangest criticism of the Melbourne Park fans yet.
Complaints have flown in thick and fast from players over several controversial changes made to the tournament to improve the experience for those in the stands.
Australian Jordan Thompson claimed it was the ‘wokest tournament ever’ in response to fans now being allowed to move in and out of stadiums in between points and games, rather than wait until the change of ends; while Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech claimed the new ‘Courtside Bar’ next to Court 6, where patrons can drink and eat freely while watching matches from just feet away, was like playing in a ‘nightclub’ following his first-round loss.
Having also lost on Court 6, Pavlyuchenkova got even more specific in her criticism after the match, with the 32-year old taking umbrage with a particularly bizarre taunt from a section of intoxicated fans – most likely in reference to a tattoo on her leg which reads ‘meow’.
“There were a couple of guys, I think they got drunk and they started to scream and meow,” Pavlyuchenkova told i News.
I think maybe because I have this tattoo on my leg, or just because of course they had some drinks and so it was really disturbing.”
Pavlyuchenkova was less than impressed with the bar set-up as a whole, saying the experience was ‘not nice’ and questioning whether the fans had any interest in her match.
“It was super loud, like in the restaurant basically, people talking and eating and drinking. I don’t know if they even watched the match,” she said.
“It was not nice to be honest. I was really annoyed at the start of the match. I have no problem playing on the outside courts, but this one was special in terms of the noise and also the court.
“I was actually thinking during the match ‘What was the idea behind it?’… maybe of course, for the fans, it’s super fun for them. But tennis is a special sport in a way.
“It’s not like baseball, or other sports where you can eat and walk around, or like basketball. It is completely different. It’s very quiet in a way. So yeah, that was really uncomfortable.”
Her conqueror Badosa agreed, having played both her matches at the Australian Open to date on Court 6.
“My two matches I played there. It’s very noisy, very loud. It’s a little bit tough to concentrate there,” she said.
“It’s not very comfortable. I cannot listen to my team either if they want to say something or if I want to talk to them.
“Even during the points, it’s quite noisy. I don’t know if it’s going to work in the future.”
Implemented for the first time ahead of the 2024 tournament, Australian Open director Craig Tiley described it as the ‘party court’, and expected it to be ‘very popular’, in an interview with News Corp last year.
“As entertainment, I think it’d [Courtside Bar] be a hit. I think it’d be very popular and will be something where everyone wants to go,” Tiley said.
“You get to see a great view of the tennis. We do want to create an environment where the fans can get as close to the actual play as they possibly can. And we know we have the best environment anyway.”