World No.1 tennis player Ashleigh Barty has just been bestowed with the Newcombe medal for the third straight year as Australia’s most outstanding performer of 2019. “It takes a village. We’re a tennis family and I’m very humbled to be here tonight again,” said the French Open champion crediting her family’s “unconditional love” for her rise to number one ranking.

“I’m extremely fortunate to have such an amazing network around me. It’s very special to have mum, dad and my very first coach, Jim, here. They gave me the unconditional love and support time and time again in all the bad times,” she added thanking her mother Josie, father Robert and first coach Jim Joyce. “In good times, they’re always there and there are a few words they said to me: ‘I love to watch you play’. When your mum and dad say that to you, when your coach says that to you, that makes the heart race a little bit – like it’s racing right now,” she expressed.

This month alone she not only won the WTA Finals but also bagged a massive US$4.42 million paycheque – the highest sum ever rewarded in men’s and women’s tennis. She broke the record by outclassing defending champion Elina Svitolina to win the WTA Finals. “Honestly, it’s been incredible and I’m very grateful they’re here tonight to share it with me as well,” Barty said during the award ceremony.

Key Takeaways:

  • World No.1 Ashleigh Barty pays tribute to support network after dazzling 2019
  • “We’re a tennis family and I’m very humbled to be here tonight,” said Ashleigh Barty after winning the Newcombe medal for the third straight year as Australia’s most outstanding performer of 2019
  • Ashleigh Barty claimed biggest prize money in tennis history at WTA Finals, producing one of the best matches of her career in the final

Barty’s brilliant season continues to glow which also includes becoming Australia’s first French Open champion since Margaret Court in 1973 and the country’s first women’s world No.1 since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976. She next eyes to compete in Australia’s Fed Cup title on November 9-10.

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The journey to World No 1 was outstanding since Barty started the season ranked 15th without a grand slam quarter-final to her name. She finishes the season as the best player in the world. She made it to the top 10 in March, when she won the Miami Open. And, she won four tournaments back to back and claimed Roland Garros and Birmingham titles to become world No 1.

In June this year, Barty, who once was a star cricketer, became only the second Australian woman to top the world rankings after winning the Birmingham WTA title.

The 23-year-old French Open champion is the second Australian woman after seven-time Grand Slam champion Yvonne Goolagong-Cawley, who held it for a fortnight in 1976, to top the world rankings.

Things to know about Ashleigh Barty:

  • Barty had once left tennis racquets and picked up a cricket bat. Just three years ago, a professional cricketer, she could have played for Australia’s national team but fate took a different turn.
  • After the US Open five years ago, Barty left competitive tennis. A successful junior player Barty won the 2011 Wimbledon girls’ title, and played in three doubles finals too.
  • Barty, who came in the French Open seeded eighth, became the first Australian in 46 years to lift the women’s trophy at Roland Garros.
  • The pressure and expectations took a toll on her as she decided to take a break from tennis. She chose cricket in 2014 and joined a professional team at home in Australia. She played the women’s Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat, playing nine matches for a top score of 39.
  • The 23-year-old is the first player from her country to win in Paris since Margaret Court in 1973.
  • Earlier this year at the Miami Open, Barty had a career-high 15 aces and became the newest 2019 titlist on the WTA circuit. The former professional cricket player won her fourth tennis title and the biggest of her career.
  • She also became the fifth different Miami Open women’s champion in the past five years, and she’s the 14th different WTA titlist in 2019.
  • She made her country proud by winning the Wimbledon girls’ title in 2011 at age 15, but gave up tennis to play professional cricket in Brisbane before returning to the tour in 2016.
  • She also played for the Brisbane Heat cricket team in the 2015-16 Big Bash League.
  • Hungrier than ever, Barty overtook the top ranking from Japan’s Naomi Osaka after winning Birmingham Classic.
  • She is the first Australian after legendary champion Goolagong Cawley to achieve the title.

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Feature Image Credit: The New Daily

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