With the French Open starting to heat up, the absence of world No.1 Ash Barty is becoming increasingly conspicuous - not that she seems to mind.
Barty made the decision early on to remain in Australia over concerns about the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, instead using her downtime to join the crowd at the Gabba to see the Brisbane Lions take on her beloved Richmond.
Any thoughts Barty might be missing the clay at Roland Garros were quickly set aside as the 24-year-old could be seen cheering for the Tigers, beer in hand.
Though the Tigers didn’t get the result fans might have hoped for, they were still loving the presence of an Aussie champion at the footy.
Barty seemed perfectly at home trying to get the Tigers over the line as the French Open moves towards the third round.
Ash Barty our true queen 👸🏻 🍺
— Jacqueline Felgate (@Jacquifelgate) October 2, 2020
The Ash Barty fist pump with beer in hand is bloody everything. What a legend
— Lee Gaskin (@Lee_Gaskin1) October 2, 2020
— Mark Stevens (@Stevo7AFL) October 2, 2020
What would you give to be Ash Barty.... Not the tennis bit, just the drinking beer at the footy stuff
— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) October 2, 2020
The prospect of Barty sinking a beer at the footy was unthinkable at the start of the year - let along abandoning any defence of her hard-fought French Open crowd.
But, such has been the far-from-normal state of affairs in 2020, a point not lost on fans of the footy and tennis.
The Age sports journalist Daniel Cherny summed it up nicely.
“Imagine if you’d been told in January that Ash Barty would watch an AFL final in person while the French Open - of which she is defending champion - was going on simultaneously,” he wrote on Twitter.
Imagine if you’d been told in January that Ash Barty would watch an AFL final in person while the French Open - of which she is defending champion - was going on simultaneously.
— Daniel Cherny 📰 (@DanielCherny) October 2, 2020
— Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) October 2, 2020
Lions spoil Ash Barty’s AFL party
Three goals from Charlie Cameron have helped fire Brisbane to a 15-point win over reigning premiers Richmond in Friday night's AFL qualifying final.
The Lions produced a huge momentum swing late in the second term to grab control at the Gabba and held on for a tense 10.9 (69) to 8.6 (54) victory, which secured a home preliminary final.
Richmond's flag defence now hangs by a thread as they await a cut-throat semi-final meeting with the winner of Saturday's elimination final between St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs.
Cameron sparked Brisbane in their first finals triumph since 2009.
The lightning small forward's second major was sandwiched between goals by Cam Rayner and Lachie Neale in a second-quarter blitz that turned the match on its head before half-time.
"I thought we showed tremendous mental strength to hang in the game," Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said.
"There was a period of time early in the second quarter where Richmond just hammered away and there was a danger they could take the game from us at that point.
"But we hung in there and managed to get some momentum ourselves and that ended up probably being the match-winning time of the game."
Brownlow Medal favourite Neale was kept quiet by Trent Cotchin early but gradually worked his way into the contest, finishing with 19 disposals and five clearances.
His work alongside Jarryd Lyons (24 disposals), Dayne Zorko (19) and Hugh McCluggage (20) at the feet of ruckmen Oscar McInerney and Stefan Martin, in his second game back from a long-term back injury, was crucial to the result.
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