Ash Barty has been celebrated at the 35th Sports Australia Hall of Fame Awards, winning the Don Award – another feather in the hat of a young person who has taken the tennis world by storm this year.
The 23-year-old superstar is the first female tennis player to win the Don. The Don Award is presented to the sportsperson whose actions have inspired the nation both on and off-court.
In accepting the award, Barty reflected on her frustration with tennis during 2015-16, when she switched to cricket and played with the Brisbane Heat in the first season of the WBBL.
“I made friends for a lifetime, an incredible group of friends outside tennis, which is really nice, who couldn’t have cared whether I could hit a tennis ball or not.”
Barty has been humble in her acknowledgement of her success in receiving the award.
“It’s been an incredible year, and [an] incredible journey for me and I’m just extremely lucky and humbled to be sharing a room with so many Australian sporting greats,” Ms Barty said when she spoke to Macquarie Radio after winning the award.
Barty thanked her coach Craig Tyzzer for his help and giving her the opportunity to come back to the sport after her break playing cricket.
“He stuck with me from day dot when I came back [from cricket],” Ms Barty said in praise of her coach.
“I’m eternally grateful to Tyzs for giving me that opportunity and that chance again.”
After winning the French Open championship in June and claiming No. 1 status, Barty has maintained her seed through the rest of the year and many more championships.
She is set to become the first Australian to end the year with a No. 1 ranking since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002, the first female to do it since Margaret Court in 1973, and the first Indigenous Australian to do it ever.
Barty is an inspiration for Indigenous people, and specifically young Indigenous girls in how hard work and effort will achieve great results. NIT congratulates Barty on her successes.
By Caris Duncan