Veteran 7 sports reporter Jim Wilson has taken aim at critics of Ash Barty following her recent post-match press conference, saying it’s “a load of crap” that anyone should have a go at her for bringing her young niece with her.

Following her shock semi-final loss to Sofia Kenin, the World Number 1 greeted reporters with eleven-week-old niece Olivia clutched in her arms. The youngster retained her usual upbeat attitude in the wake of the upset, saying:

“It’s been a hell of a summer. I mean, if you would have told me three weeks ago that we would have won a tournament in Adelaide, made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, I’d take that absolutely every single day of the week. I’ve learnt from all of the experiences that I’ve kind of been thrown into. I’ve loved every minute.”

While many saw the press conference as a sweet moment and a sign of the closeness between Ash Barty and her family, some were critical of her decision to have Olivia there.

Former doubles legend Mark Woodforde said that she brought the baby as “a way of deflecting some of the tough questions” about her defeat.

Several other high-profile tennis commentators mirrored this, calling Olivia’s presence “inappropriate” and a “deflection”, and on Weekend Sunrise today, Jim Wilson snapped.

Coming to Barty’s defense, the veteran sports anchor said:

“I just feel like the whole hoo-hah with Ash, post-match after that semi-final, bringing her niece, the baby in, and some people are saying that it was like a smokescreen or trying to deflect the blame for her loss. What a load of crap.”

“This woman is a great role model and she wasn’t deflecting the responsibility. She said she was beaten fair and square. She rarely sees her family, so they’re in Melbourne for the two weeks (of the Australian Open). I thought it was a beautiful touch with her niece.”

“Why are we trying to pick something out of someone who is such a great role model, carries herself so well and is someone we should celebrate?”

He went on to say that Ash Barty is “the real deal” and deserves more respect than some of her critics have shown, and honestly, amen to that.

Image: Getty Images / Mike Owen