Last Updated on 20 January 2024
When Tennis Australia decided to introduce a bar on Court Six, many feared it would distract players. And so it did. However, Australian tennis star and former world number 33, John Millman, disagrees. He thinks the “party court” is a sign of the times and that players will need to accept it, as tennis has always been changing and adapting to the expectations of fans.
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Millman, who is no longer competing in singles but is still active in doubles, experienced first-hand what it was like to play on a court with a two-storey bar on the sidelines, as he was playing a doubles match on the party court that was interrupted by rain, providing fans with ample opportunities “to get really into it.”
And while fellow players like world number seven Stefanos Tsitsipas and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova complained about the proximity of the bar, Millman said it was something they should all get used to.
Pavlyuchenkova claimed people were “meowing” at her during her match with Paula Badosa and Tsitsipas was unhappy not just with the bar, but also with the opportunities given to fans to come and go in breaks between games. The Greek tennis star said only players knew how distracting it was to see people moving and “stuff happening around you”while you were trying to zone in.
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However, for Millman, the party court represented the natural evolution of the sport and “a sign that the times are changing a little bit.” The tennis veteran described court six as “high entertainment,” where consumers feel that because they are paying the bills, they should get their money’s worth.
That’s definitely how tennis executives are feeling as well. Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley was enthusiastic about “the model” and said they were thinking about expanding it “across the site in the future.”
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Australia’s best male junior of 2022, Edward Winter, shared those sentiments and said the changes would be good for the sport and compared what was now happening in Australia to the modernization of LIV Golf.
Winter understood why some felt tennis should stay a traditional sport, but said it was important for the progression of the game to continue what the Australian Open and Tennis Australia have started, while still adhering to the traditional etiquette associated with tennis.
Millman agreed with Winter, who is his doubles partner, adding that he expected crowds to “be a bit more wild” than they used to be, but that it was the reality of tennis these days. Despite the nature of crowds changing, Millman thought it was more fun to play tennis today than when he started.