Brilliant Barty rewarded with No.1 ranking

The Roland-Garros champion is the first Australian woman to top the singles rankings since 1976.

Ashleigh Barty smiling and wawing to the crowd at Roland-Garros 2019© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Supremely talented, humble and diligently determined, Ash Barty now sits at the summit of women’s tennis.

The amiable Australian appears unfazed by any challenge, adapting her extensive all-court artillery to all the surfaces.

Back in March, Barty lifted a maiden Premier Mandatory title at the Miami Open on hard courts. Earlier in June, the eighth seed then outmanoeuvred seven opponents on the terre battue to become a Grand Slam champion for the first time at Roland-Garros.

Now, the 23-year-old has launched her grass court campaign in emphatic style, defeating close friend Julia Goerges 6-4, 7-5 to lift the Birmingham trophy without dropping a set.

Astounding journey for Barty

Significantly the Roland-Garros and Birmingham title quests have clinched the world No.1 ranking, capping an astounding journey for the Australian.

“It’s just hard to put into words what we have been able to achieve over the last few years and to be where we are now is just incredible,” declared Barty, trying to compare the emotions from Paris to Birmingham.

“Very different feelings. I think very unique feelings, both of them. Particularly at Roland-Garros it felt like a whirlwind.

“It's just been the most amazing journey for myself and my team and we've got to this point by doing all the small things right and I think we will continue to try and do that. But it's certainly just been the most amazing month of tennis for us and really an amazing three years.”

Ashleigh Barty posing and smiling with the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen the day after her victory at Roland-Garros 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

A complete re-start

This “journey” Barty refers to includes quitting the sport in late 2014, before returning in the summer of 2016 without a ranking to completely re-start her tennis career.

To put this rise into context, Barty finished 2016 at world No.272 and was already into the Top 20 by the end of 2018.

Barty’s relentless endeavour has reaped the rewards, to become the first Australian woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976 to top the singles rankings.

“I think I'm nowhere near her status. To be mentioned in the same sentence is incredible. Evonne, she's an amazing human being and has set the tone for so many Australians and so many indigenous Australians around our country and around the world, she is an amazing person,” reflected Barty, who is close to her compatriot.

“What she has done in her career was incredible and what she continues to do off the court for us as a sport is amazing. But to have her as a friend is amazing and I'm sure that I will be able to chat to her in the next few days and chat through all of it.”

"We started from scratch"

Barty frequently refers to “we” in her answers and interviews, paying credit to her team for such sensational results.

The Queenslander is clearly a pleasure to work with, so much so that her childhood coach Jim Joyce, who moulded her canny game, flew to the United Kingdom as well as Barty’s parents to witness the historic triumph in Birmingham.

“You always dream of being No.1 as a little kid, but for it to become a reality is incredible. It really is.

“It’s not something that was even in my realm – this year we were aiming for Top 10 and now to be where we are, it's a testament to all of my team who have put so much time and invested so much passion and energy into my career and try and make me the best that I can be,” insisted Barty.

“I have the most incredible team of people who have been with me these last three years. We started from scratch and now to be where we are, not only for me, it’s a massive achievement for them.”

Ashleigh Party posing with her coach Craig Tyzzer at Roland-Garros 2019©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Still hungry for more success

There is certainly no rest for the Roland-Garros champion, who heads to the south coast of England to wield her racquet on the lawns of Eastbourne.

“It was my first single tournaments back when a few weeks earlier in the calendar, when it was 50,000 and played in qualis through there,” Barty revealed. “So Eastbourne has a very special place in my heart.”

Watch out Wimbledon, Barty is not ready to rest on her laurels.

“I’m still hungry for more success, and that’s what we are after.”