On Saturday, Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese player to win the Australian Open at just 21.
But fans were outraged when Channel Nine sports reporter Tony Jones interviewed the tennis star following her historic victory.
Taking to social media in droves, viewers slammed Tony for his ‘cringeworthy’ and ‘disrespectful’ chat with the sporting great.
‘Cringeworthy, disrespectful, demeaning’: Australian Open fans SLAM Tony Jones (left) for awkward post-victory interview with tennis champion Naomi Osaka (right)
The interview got off to an awkward start when Tony quipped that he was ‘not sure how you carried it all this way’ after Naomi hauled the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup to the Channel Nine set.
When Naomi was seemingly taken aback by the comment and smiled, Tony remarked: ‘There’s the smile’.
While some fans deemed that comment to be condescending, others took issue with the way he broached her heritage.
‘Your grandparents back at Japan and you left Japan as three and you still regard yourself as a Japanese player,’ he said.
‘It took a time for your grandparents that you and your sisters wanted to play tennis and they finally came on board.’
‘There’s the smile’: Tony made a comment on Naomi’s facial expression and remarked that he was surprised she could carry the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup to the Channel Nine set
‘Is it just me or was that the most cringeworthy, awkward, pathetic, and disrespectful post match interview with the 2019 Women’s Australian Open Champion Naomi Osaka?’ one viewer fumed.
‘Tony Jones take the day off tomorrow please! #embarrassing’
‘Tony Jones way out of his depth. The interview was outrageous and his questions demeaning and insulting,’ a further Tweet read.
‘The interview was outrageous’: Tennis fans didn’t hold back with their thoughts about the interview
One perplexed viewer pointed out: ‘So in a five minute interview, Tony Jones quizzed the World No. 1, two-time Grand Slam champion, Naomi Osaka, on: Shopping, Smiling, How she managed to carry the trophy, ‘Regarding herself’ as Japanese.
‘As if Channel Nine’s coverage wasn’t insulting enough.’
Echoing a similar sentiment, another viewer raged: ‘Most awkward interview Dumb question after dumb question.
Yet another viewer added: ‘Naomi Osaka did a good job of enduring the interview with Tony Jones.
Mixed reactions: While many fans thought the interview was ‘awkward, others took to social media to defend Tony and said criticism was ‘unfair’ and ‘over the top’
But it seems not all Channel Nine viewers were critical of Tony’s interviewing skills.
‘The criticism of Tony Jones was unfair & over the top. Osaka admitted she forgot to smile & it was something the Ch9 panel was talking about prior to her joining them,’ the fan wrote.
‘And the comment about being able to carry the trophy was about how heavy the trophy was, not how ‘weak’ she was.’
In response to the criticism, a Channel Nine spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia: ‘We couldn’t be more proud of our entire team and the incredible broadcast they’ve put to air these past two weeks. And viewers at home have clearly loved it as well.
‘Last night’s final is up in audience by more than 14% on last year’s final and now holds the title of the most watched program of 2019.’
Champion: On Saturday, Naomi Osaka became the first Japanese player to win the Australian Open at just 21
Tony is long-time sports reporter for the network, having joined Channel Nine in the ’80s.
At the start of this month he joined the new-look Today panel alongside Deborah Knight, Georgie Gardner, Brooke Boney and Tom Steinfort.
Despite only being in the role less than a month, Tony already seems to making his mark and creating headlines.
During his first day on the job, the 57-year-old was caught giving himself a ‘pep talk’ after the program returned from a commercial break.
In another controversial moment, he went head to head with colleague Brooke Boney in debate over Australia Day.
The Indigenous TV personality admitted she didn’t want to celebrate the public holiday because she can’t separate it from the adversity faced by Aboriginal people.
Tony countered the argument by claiming that he is ‘upset’ that Australia Day has become a ‘us versus them’ issue.
Differing points of view: Earlier this month, Tony went head to head with his colleague Brooke Boney (left) after she said she doesn’t want to celebrate Australia Day because she can’t separate it from the adversity faced by her people