Channel Seven has found itself in the firing line from viewers and tennis commentators after rolling out the red carpet for a former Australian Open champion who recently served a doping ban.
Australian Open organisers wheeled out Maria Sharapova on Margaret Court Arena on Friday night to conduct the women’s draw for the 2018 tournament, where she was interviewed by Seven’s Hamish McLachlan.
Sharapova hasn’t been long back playing tennis after serving a 15-month doping ban for testing positive to Meldonium during 2016 Australian Open.
Not wanting to draw attention to Sharapova’s ban, McLachlan referred to her recent absence from the game as a “time out”.
?? @MariaSharapova talks about how time away from tennis allowed her to enjoy a “normal life”.
— #7TENNIS ? (@7tennis) January 11, 2018
However, McLachlan was lambasted for his tiptoeing efforts, with viewers venting their rage over the interview on Twitter.
What a shit interview. Embarrassing from channel 7
— chris (@brando_chris) January 12, 2018
— Bird Dog (@Beaso0910) January 12, 2018
— JJ (@goodbyebanks) January 12, 2018
— F (@pluckyloser) January 12, 2018
But the viewing public were not alone in their criticism of Seven’s interview, with tennis writers joining the chorus.
The Telegraph’s Simon Briggs described the interview as “obsequious”, while The Times’ Stuart Fraser labelled it a “farce”.
“Her ‘time out’ from the sport was referred to as though it was a break of her choosing. It is another shameful episode in which tennis has rolled out the red carpet for a doping offender,” Fraser wrote.
B&T contacted Seven for comment.