Ash Barty has joined an elite group of people to reach world number one status in the toughest of sports.
The Australian tennis star has had a dream 12-months. Three years after suffering depression, quitting tennis and overcoming a bout of homesickness, the 23-year-old has become the second Indigenous Australian to reach the top of the sport.
The first was Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, who held the top spot for two weeks in 1976. Goolagong-Cawley is the only other female Australian to make it to number one, with John Newcombe, Patrick Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt the only others to see the number one next to their name.
“It’s been a whirlwind three weeks for me. It’s been a whirlwind year for me but to follow in the footsteps of Evonne, even to be mentioned in the same sentence as her, is incredible,” Barty said.
Her rise to world number one has been predicted for the last couple of months, with former Wimbledon semi-finalist Todd Woodbridge claiming it would happen at the grass court major in July.
But with a historic win at the French Open bumping her into second, Barty’s win at the Birmingham Classic over her German doubles partner Julia Görges 6-3 7-5 in the final was more than enough to slingshot her to the top.
“You always dream of it as a little kid for it but to become a reality, it’s just incredible. It really is,” Barty said.
“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 is really a testament to all the people around me.”
Barty won the Birmingham classic without dropping a set and has one more warm-up event before starting her Wimbledon campaign on July 1.