Barty makes return to tennis
Talented Australian Ash Barty will make her return to professional tennis - with greater perspective and renewed motivation - after 17 months away.
Australian women’s tennis received another exciting boost on Monday with the announcement that Ash Barty will return to the sport after a 17-month hiatus.
Just a day after Australia’s thrilling victory over Slovakia in Fed Cup, WTA Insider revealed the Queenslander teenager will make a comeback in doubles at the Perth Tennis International Pro Tour event.
Barty, the hottest Australian female tennis prospect since Sam Stosur, drew plenty of attention with her run to the junior Wimbledon title in 2011, aged just 15.
Two years later, partnering Casey Dellacqua, she reached Grand Slam finals at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open to cement herself as one of the world’s premier doubles players.
She also represented Australia in Fed Cup – winning her first live singles rubber against Switzerland in 2013 – and peaked at a career-high ranking of No.129 in September 2013.
Her best Grand Slam singles results were second-round appearances at the French and US Opens in 2013.
Yet as she told WTA Insider, such high-level success as a teenager was a case of too much, too soon.
“It was obviously phenomenal, but it all happened a little bit too quickly,” Barty said.
“I went from not being known anywhere in the world to winning junior Wimbledon and six months later playing the Australian Open. I was a victim of my own success, really. We had plans to play in those tournaments, not expecting those results. If you win the Wildcard Playoff (for Australian Open 2012) you can’t really say, ‘Oh, I actually don’t want the wildcard.’
“Obviously I was very young, but I turn 20 this year and it’s a different perspective on life and tennis in general. I’ll be able to do it my way a little bit more.
“If it works, great. If it doesn’t, I can’t really complain. I’ve had a phenomenal career for the short time that I did play. I’m just prepared to work up that slow grind up the ITFs and hopefully be up with the WTA soon.”
By 2014, Barty had lost the joy for competition, and played her last event at the US Open, falling in the first round after qualifying for the main draw.
In her time away- after years of constant travel – she enjoyed spending time at home, relaxing with friends and family and pursuing other interests, including coaching youngsters at her local tennis club and trying her hand at cricket.
As a talented sportswoman, she excelled in that arena, and was selected to represent Brisbane Heat in the professional Women’s Big Bash League.
It was during this time that her passion for tennis was reignited.
“I love the sport of tennis, but I sort of got a little bit away from what I really wanted to do. It became robotic for me and that’s not what I wanted. It’s such an amazing sport and I just really wanted to enjoy it and I lost that enjoyment and that passion,” she revealed to WTA Insider.
“I think deep down I knew if I kept trying to drive on through it, it would drive me away completely. So it was the right time to step away.
“It was an unbelievable opportunity to completely do something really different. The support and everything I got from cricket was phenomenal. Having that competitive edge brought me back into that aspect of tennis, as well, getting out there and competing and sharing it with other people. It was just nice to refresh and do something different.
“Tennis in the end, it just makes sense to me.”