Ashleigh BartyAustralian Former Tennis Player
Ashleigh Barty is an Australian former tennis player. She won her first grand slam title at the French Open in 2019, and announced her retirement from playing tennis in March 2022.
• Date of birth: 24 April 1996
• Age: 26 years old
• Place of birth: Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
• Nationality: Australian
• Height: 166cm / 5ft 5ins
• Plays: Right-handed
• Turned Pro: 2010
• Retired: March 2022
• Career Prize Money: US$ 23,829,071
Barty started playing tennis when she was around five years old and went on to turn professional in 2010 after having enjoyed an impressive junior career.
In 2014, Barty decided to take a break from professional tennis and enjoyed a stint playing cricket for Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League.
She won her first WTA singles title at the Malaysian Open in 2017 and then went on to taste grand slam glory for the first time when she triumphed at the 2019 French Open.
Barty went on to win her first Wimbledon title in the summer of 2021, and followed that success up with her first Australian Open triumph in front of a home crowd in January 2022.
So, what do we know about Barty’s journey to becoming the talented tennis player that she is today? This is her story.
Early Life, Parents And Upbringing
Ashleigh Barty was born on 24 April 1996 in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. She is the daughter of mother Josie and father Robert Barty. Barty has two older sisters – Sara and Ali.
Through her great-grandmother on her father’s side, Barty is a member of the Indigenous Australian Ngaragu people, the Aboriginal people of southern New South Wales and northeastern Victoria.
Barty was introduced to tennis by her parents when she was around five years old, and she began playing at the West Brisbane Tennis Centre.
She began working with junior tennis coach Jim Joyce, who normally doesn’t start working with kids until they are at least seven or eight years old. “But the first ball I threw to her, bang!” Joyce said. “She hit it right back.”
Joyce also says that Barty’s focus from a young age also stood out. “The whole time I was talking to the other kids, twice her age, she was just staring at me. She never took her eyes off me once,” he says.
Her first coach also recalls how impressed he was by Barty’s hand-eye coordination, which was evident from an early age. He said: “The key thing that stood out with Ash was her hand-eye coordination. It was as good as I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been coaching.
“I’ve never seen a kid more keen to turn up. It wouldn’t matter if there was a big thunderstorm, Ash wanted to get to those tennis courts and turn up.”
Barty recalls that she would practice by hitting a ball against a wall outside her parents’ home. “I used to hit the ball against that wall every day after school, for hours on end,” Barty said in an interview in 2017. “It used to do Mum and Dad’s heads in.”
Barty has publicly spoken about her pride regarding her Indigenous roots. “We’re very proud of our Ngaragu tribe,” Barty said in an interview with the WTA. “My sisters don’t look as Indigenous as I do. I’m an extremely proud Indigenous woman and being able to travel the world and to show off my heritage is pretty amazing.”
Barty turned professional in April 2010 when she was just 14 years old. She played her first professional match at an ITF Women’s Circuit $25K event in her hometown of Ipswich.
She went on to win the girls’ singles title at Wimbledon in 2011 after having lost in the second round of the junior French Open in the same year.
Barty secured her first WTA Tour match win at the Malaysian Open in 2013, winning two matches before losing in the quarter-finals.
In 2013, Barty also began to improve at the grand slam tournaments, reaching the first round of the Australian Open and the second rounds of both the French Open and US Open.
Break From Tennis In 2014
After the 2014 US Open, Barty announced that she would be taking a break from playing professional tennis.
“Since returning from the US Open my team and I have decided that right now it is best for me to take a break from professional tennis,” she said at the time. “Obviously this has been a very difficult decision with the Australian summer coming up but after a lot of thought we feel this is the right decision.”
She later explained that the early years of her career were “too much, too quickly” for her.
“It was too much too quickly for me as I’ve been travelling from quite a young age,” she said in December 2015. “I wanted to experience life as a normal teenaged girl and have some normal experiences.”
She also said in a separate interview: “I needed time to step away, to live a normal life, because this tennis life certainly isn’t normal. I needed time to grow as a person, to mature. I left all of my options open.”
During her hiatus from tennis, Barty started playing professional cricket and lined up for Brisbane Heat in the WBBL.
Return To Tennis And More Success
Barty announced her return to professional tennis in February 2016 and won her first WTA singles title in 2017 at the Malaysian Open, beating Japan’s Nao Hibino 6-3 6-2 in the final after having begun the tournament as a qualifier.
The win secured her spot in the top 100 in the WTA rankings and guaranteed her entry to grand slam events.
“I’m over the moon, I don’t really know what to say, I’m a bit speechless,” said Barty after the victory. “I think it’s been a success for us, the start [of 2017], more successful than we thought.
“It’s a tribute to all the work we did in the off-season, and last year, coming back. It hasn’t quite been 12 months since I started playing singles again. I’m certainly happy to be back.”
Barty continued to impress and her major breakthrough came in 2019 when she won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open.
She beat Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-3 in the 2019 French Open final to claim her first grand slam title and moved up to number two in the world rankings.
“It is unbelievable, I’m a little speechless, I played almost the perfect match,” Barty said after her triumph.
“It has been a crazy two weeks. It is a special place here for Australian players and I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to achieve.”
Barty made her singles debut at the WTA Finals in 2019 and beat Elina Svitolina in the final to claim the title.
Further success and her next grand slam title arrived in the summer of 2021, when she beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in the final at SW19.
After being knocked out of the US Open in the third round, Barty opted to skip the season-ending WTA Finals and the remaining tournaments of the year.
Her next grand slam title came in January 2022, when she triumphed on home soil to claim the Australian Open singles title, beating American Danielle Collins 6-3 7-6 (7-2) in the final.
“This is a dream come true for me. I am so proud of being Aussie,” she said after the win. “As an Aussie, the most important part of this tournament has been being able to share this experience with the fans. This crowd is one of the most fun I’ve played in front of.”
Retirement From Professional Tennis
On 23 March 2022, Barty, who was ranked as number one in the world at the time, shocked the tennis community by announcing her retirement from the sport.
“I’m so happy and I’m so ready. I just know at the moment in my heart, for me as a person, this is right,” Barty said.
“I know that people may not understand it. I’m OK with that. Because I know that Ash Barty the person has so many dreams she wants to chase after that don’t necessarily involve travelling the world, being away from my family, from my home, which is where I’ve always wanted to be.”
Barty said that she was “absolutely spent” and that “physically I have nothing more to give”.
Life Away From The Court
Away from the court, her old junior coach Jim Joyce has revealed that Ash is simply a down-to-earth Aussie.
“She likes all the outdoor activities and that’s typical for a Queenslander,” said Joyce. “She’ll have a cold beer on a hot day when she’s off Tour. She’s a real Aussie and a real Queenslander.”
What Have Others Said?
Ash Barty’s father, Robert, speaking about his pride towards her daughter after her 2022 Australian Open triumph: “You get all these people come and say ‘gee, your daughter’s the number one tennis player in the world’ but it’s even better when people say ‘God, she’s such a lovely girl’.
“And it’s been the same this time with the hundreds of text messages that I’ve got. Sure there’s some in there that say congratulations, what a great win. But the ones that really hit home are the ones that talk about her as a person, how she’s a role model for their kids. That’s beautiful.”