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Ashleigh Barty: From ditching tennis for cricket to winning Australian Open 2022

Barty has got that Kane Williamson like calm about her. She smiles as she goes about her job. While it could be next to impossible to be a saint-like Kiwi cricketer, Barty is more human and hence more relatable to the fans.

Saurabh Ganguly Editor

Updated - 30 January 2022 12:48 pm

Ashleigh Barty
Highlights
  • Barty once ditched tennis for cricket to "find herself" and when she did return to the sport, there was no looking back as the once sporting prodigy indeed blossomed into one of the world's best.
  • She came back to tennis in 2016 and has been on a meteoric rise ever since.

There are, as many experts and pundits will tell you, many different roads to the zenith of success. Some take the path which demands absolutely sincerity and single-mindedness towards the craft or area towards which the person wants to succeed while others want to experiment and realise their true calling before they want to commit themselves to it.

And while there could be several more paths to the top of the mountain, Ashleigh Barty has never been afraid to take the path perhaps a bit less travelled by, perhaps a bit unconventional. She has preferred to experiment and learn and make her own share of mistakes.

She once ditched tennis for cricket to “find herself” and when she did return to the sport, there was no looking back as the once sporting prodigy indeed blossomed into one of the world’s best. She has been a cricketer, won a golf tournament and has now three Grand Slam titles to her name all at less than 26 years of age.

While very few sportspersons can boast of a list like that, Barty has got that Kane Williamson like calm about her. She smiles as she goes about her job. While it could be next to impossible to be the saint-like Kiwi cricketer, Barty is more human and hence in a way more relatable to the fans.

She was way too emotional last year when she won Wimbledon. One could have sensed emotions in her French Open title victory in 2019 as well but the calmest of the lot was definitely the one in front of her own home crowd where through she even earned the reputation of being one of the nicest persons on the court.

She became the first Australian in 44 years to win the Australian Open and to believe that she was even close to quitting the game seems surreal now. She defeated America’s Danielle Collins in straight sets and seemed nervous despite trailing in the second set which she eventually won in the tie-breaker.

Barty was just 18 years of age when she walked away from a tennis career. Her announcement came after the 2014 US Open and she did not quite answer if and when she will return to the sport. It was during this time that the Aussie signed with Brisbane Heat for the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) Twenty20 season despite no formal training in the sport.

“In short, I think I needed just to find myself. I felt like I got twisted and maybe a little bit lost along the way in the first part of my career,” she had said reflecting on her decision.

“I was very lucky to have a lot of success, but I’m still very much a homebody and I kind of lost my way a little bit with not being able to connect with my family,” she added.

“We didn’t lose that love or that care, but I felt like there was a bit of a split. I wanted to come back to that. I wanted to come back to my family and those who love me the most. My relationships with my family improved, my relationship with myself improved,” she stated.

She came back to tennis in 2016 and has been on a meteoric rise ever since so much so that she ended 2021 as the top-ranked player for a third consecutive year. This has put her on an elite list as she joins Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and Chris Evert as the only women to achieve the feat before her.

As far as her golfing achievement is concerned, she won the Brookwater Golf Club women’s title with a commanding 7 and 5 triumph in the matchplay final near Brisbane. She picked up this sport while playing rounds with Pat Rafter and her long-time boyfriend and now fiancé
Garry Kissick, who was present on the court during her win.

Barty usually talks about “we” and not “I” when talking about her tennis journey referring to the role her team has had to play in her success which includes not only Kissick but also her coach Craig Tyzzer. She truly deserves some rest after she celebrates her success- the one in which all Australian fans would have felt part of that “we” and one that has proved yet again that “Good people win too.”

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