A crying baby interrupted play.
A crying baby interrupted play.

Oh baby, tennis isn’t for you

BABIES belong in bed not at centre court.

That's the message from Jim Courier and countless other disgruntled tennis fans after a baby's cries interrupted play during a tense quarterfinal match between Rafael Nadal and Marin Cilic.

The fastidious Nadal was visibly unnerved by the disruption, stopping several times to helplessly gather his composure as the wailing continued.

A baffled Courier asked after the epic match, which saw the third set tie-break punctuated by the piercing screams of a baby from the stands: "What's a baby even doing awake at 10pm?"

Rafael Nadal halts play due to a baby crying on the crowd in his quarter-final match last night. Picture: Getty
Rafael Nadal halts play due to a baby crying on the crowd in his quarter-final match last night. Picture: Getty

While I agree with Courier's sentiment that the Australian Open is no place for an infant, I laugh at the tennis commentator's suggestion that it is because, at night time, they should be asleep.

As a mother of four I can say with utter certainty my babies were not asleep at 10pm. Believe me, I wished they were, but more often than not they were wide-awake and screaming the house down.

This is precisely why I wouldn't even consider taking an infant to an event like the tennis. Babies are unpredictable. They cry. A lot. Tiny tots often require rocking or their parents to walk them around in their arms soothing them with lullabies and shushing.

At the tennis there is an expectation that spectators will stay silent and in their seats until play is done. Well, that's easier said than done if you have a baby with you screaming blue murder.

There are plenty of other sporting events where weeping children wouldn't be such a big issue.

It's unlikely a cricketer is going to be put off by the sounds of a tiny tantrum when surrounded by all that chanting and singing from the English fans. Ditto a footballer playing amid the screams and shouts in the stands at the MCG.

Tennis is a sporting rarity and if you can't adhere to its rules of conduct then you should, quite frankly, stay away.

No-one is saying life should stop when you have a baby.

All parents deserve a social life and if a mother is breastfeeding they should be able to bring their babies with them to events without judgment or criticism.

That being said, parents should also show some sense about the sorts of places they go to with their babies. Heavy metal concerts, smoke-filled bars, movie theatres that aren't predesignated baby-friendly sessions and, yes, the tennis are probably events that are best avoided out of consideration for not only the people around you but for the child too.

Families should enjoy the Open by all means, but save the racket for their loungerooms not the stands.