In June 2019, little-known Ashleigh Barty took the tennis world by storm, beating Germany’s Julia Goerges to win the Birmingham Classic grass-court tournament. The 5-foot-5 athlete’s performance gave her the top spot on the WTA singles ranking — the first time an Australian leads the pack in 43 years.
Although Barty lost in the fourth round of Wimbledon 2019, she remains the World No. 1 for now. Here’s why she’s still the future of tennis.
Born on April 24, 1996, the Queensland native began playing tennis at age four. Her coach, Jim Joyce, explained that her focus and hand-eye coordination prompted him to begin her training at such a young age. By the time Barty was 12, she was competing against male adults.
A roadblock for Barty
Barty toured Europe and Australia, spending a lot of time away from home. As 2014 drew to a close, Barty chose to take a break from the sport, citing mental health issues. The heavy expectations of a tennis career had weighed on the young athlete. She felt like the stress stemmed from her win at the 2011 junior Wimbledon tournament.
“It was the best and the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Barty said. “It was important for me to work my way through it, and I think it was also important for me to take some time away from tennis.” During this time, she played cricket with the Brisbane Heat. Then, in 2016, Barty made her way back to the game.
The comeback story
No one in tennis circles knew much about the smiley tennis player in 2016. Barty was unranked and signed up for the qualifying round of the Eastbourne Trophy (a level tier below the main WTA Tour). The athlete won six matches in a row, quickly landing back in WTA rankings and laying the foundation for a promising future. With the support of a formidable team, Barty made her way to the top through hard work and positivity.
Once she got down to business, Barty’s rise has been nothing short of exceptional. Earlier in 2019, Barty became the first Australian singles player to win the French Open since 1973. When she gave Georges a run for her money at the Birmingham Classic, Barty sealed the deal to become World No. 1.
The 23-year-old was delighted to follow in the footsteps of Evonne Goolagong. The last Australian to top the WTA rankings, Goolagong made a significant impact on the sport.
Impressive 2019 stats
The Sydney International tournament in January marked the start of a fantastic year for the incredible star. In March 2019, Barty Ashleigh beat Karolina Pliskova to win the Miami Open. She followed this victory with the French Open title three months later, prevailing over Marketa Vondrousova.
Although Barty lost in the fourth round of Wimbledon 2019, history shows she won’t let an obstacle keep her down. Our eyes are still on the World No. 1. We expect great things from her moving forward.