From bushfire smoke to an unforgettable kiss and a controversial banana, there was always something going on at the Australian Open.
Mother Nature roars
Melbourne's weather is known to be volatile and Mother Nature – apparently not a tennis fan – seemed determined to steal the show. Air pollution from the deadly bushfires in Australia delayed qualifiers and training sessions. The organizers were sharply criticized for not protecting the players better.
Heavy rain – some of which were cloudy brown in color – helped wash away the smog, but this brought with it its own problems baking the dishes in brown mud.
The next heat was wild when the beaten semi-finalist Simona Halep said that temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius "killed me".
& # 39; # 39 & Bananaman; slips
The French Elliot Benchetrit was referred to by the Australian media as "Bananaman" after giving the fruit to a ball girl during a qualifier and asking her to peel it for him. Benchetrit argued that he was having trouble tearing his skin off because he had cream on his hands.
The referee, John Blom, was not impressed and asked him to peel his own banana and allegedly berated him for treating the girl like his "slave". When the controversy made headlines in Australia and beyond, the French complained that the backlash against him was "out of control".
Nadal's creepy moment
Rafael Nadal melted his heart after hurrying to comfort a ball girl and kiss her on the cheek after one of his fearsome foreheads thundered against her head.
Spanish number one was just about to end its duel against Argentinian Federico Delbonis in the second round when the unfortunate girl was in his line of fire.
Nadal went over to check how she was doing and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. The boy blushed.
Nadal called the failure "one of the scariest moments in my career" and met 13-year-old Anita the next day to apologize again.
With 24 Grand Slam titles, she is the most successful tennis player in history, but Margaret Court was threatening during the tournament that graced her as a player.
The Australian, now 77, is a controversial figure due to her deeply conservative views. Once she said that "tennis is full of lesbians".
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her Grand Slam in the calendar year, she was granted a reserved ceremony, of which John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova had nothing.
McEnroe described Court as "a crazy aunt" and he and his legend Navratilova held a protest in court demanding that the Margaret Court Arena be renamed. They later apologized for breaking tournament "minutes".
Ashleigh Barty, a surprise loser in the semifinals against eventual champion Sofia Kenin, surprised the world media by holding her press conference after playing with a baby happily cooing on her lap.
Australia's No. 1 in the world, said twelve-week-old niece Olivia, who seemed to be comfortable in the spotlight, in the perspective of her defeat.
But not everyone was amused, some accused Barty of using the baby to distract attention from her loss.