She may be the greatest women's tennis player of all time, but Serena Williams has been savaged by former Aussie star Sam Groth over a bizarre pre-Wimbledon declaration.

At a press conference ahead of the first round Williams made it clear she had no idea Ash Barty was the number 1 ranked player in the world.

But Groth has since stood up for his fellow Australian star, taking aim at Williams, who has "no idea about anything much that happens in the sport" and is only serving her "self-interest".

"I don't think what Ash has achieved in recent weeks has actually had the recognition it deserves from a lot of people, but as one of the biggest names in tennis, what Serena said was pretty sh***y," she said in a column for The Herald Sun.

Advertisement

"You're one of the most recognisable athletes on the planet and you can't tell me who the number one player in your sport is?

"It's disgraceful and not a good look for your sport."

At Williams' pre-tournament press conference, one journalist pointed out to the US star that Barty was now ranked number 1.

Sam Groth has slammed Serena Williams. Photo / Getty
Sam Groth has slammed Serena Williams. Photo / Getty

While Williams had little to say, she did compliment the former cricketer turned tennis star.

"Wow, that's great.

"She's like the sweetest, cutest girl on tour. She's so nice.

"She has the most beautiful game, such classic shots. I mean, she does everything right. Her technique is, like, flawless."

"Obviously I'm happy for her. Yeah, it's good. It's good for her.

Advertisement

"I think, like, she's really even-tempered. She's just really chill. I feel like she's just so relaxed in a way. She's had a solid year, as well. It's not just the French Open. She won Miami. Yeah, I think anything is possible."

However, Williams' tone didn't sit well with Groth, who slammed the tennis great's comments as "derogatory" for "going on about how nice she thinks Ash is" instead of complimenting her tennis ability.

Groth wrote: "She's the best tennis player in the world and you didn't know it. She gave her no credit for the achievement."

He also took aim at Williams for not promoting women's tennis to the same extent as male stars like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic have done for the men's game.

"She's not done for the women's game what others have done for the men's.

"It's all about brand Serena not brand tennis."