Brisbane QLD, Australia, 23 December 2016 |

Ashleigh Barty will have two more reasons to celebrate this Christmas after the former Wimbledon junior champion received wildcards for both Australian Open 2017 and the Brisbane International.

The 20-year-old returned to tennis earlier this year, having enjoyed a successful stint as an all-rounder for the Brisbane Heat in the 2015-16 Women’s Big Bash League.

Barty’s return to the tennis court was hampered by an injury she sustained to her right arm in August, but the world No.274 believes she will be fully fit and firing on all cylinders when she competes at the Brisbane International, her home tournament, for the first time since 2014.

That year, she qualified for the tournament and stunned former world No.5 Daniela Hantuchová (SVK) in the first round.

The Queenslander was due to face Maria Sharapova (RUS) in the next round, but was forced to withdraw due to a left adductor strain.

Barty is hoping for a happy homecoming when she returns to Queensland Tennis Centre from 1 January.

“It’s been a frustrating year with injury, but I’m finally feeling fit and healthy and looking forward to a big summer of tennis,” Barty said.

”I’m very grateful to Tennis Australia for giving me the chance to compete against some of the best players in the world, both in Brisbane and at the AO. It’s going to be a great challenge, but it’s one I’m up for.

“Brisbane is one of my favourite events on the calendar, and for me there’s no better place to start the year. It’ll be really special to kick off the New Year playing in front of my friends and family, and hopefully I can get off to a good start and build on it.”

As well as competing in the singles in Brisbane, Barty will also renew her doubles partnership with fellow Australian Casey Dellacqua, with whom she has enjoyed great success in the past.

In 2013, Barty’s debut WTA season, the pair reached the finals of the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

Barty is relishing the prospect of reuniting with Dellacqua.

“Casey was a big part of my reason for coming back to tennis. I caught up with her earlier in the year and we talked about getting the old team back together, which got me really excited.

“We made our debut together in Brisbane in 2012 and managed to reach the semifinal, so I’ve got some great memories of that run and hopefully we can bring some of the old magic back.

“It’s always nice to have a mate next to you on court, she knows me so well and I’ve really enjoyed practicing with her again. She’s as motivated as I am to come back out here and show people what we can do.”

Tennis Australia Head of Women’s Tennis Nicole Pratt is excited about Barty’s return to the big time.

“Ashleigh has shown great strength and determination to return to the court after a succession of injuries, so we are looking forward to welcoming her back to the Australian Open and Brisbane International, her home tournament,” Pratt said.

“Ash formed a formidable partnership with Casey, reaching three Grand Slam finals in 2013, so it will be exciting to see them both back in action.”

Added Brisbane International Tournament Director Geoff Quinlan: “Ashleigh had a stunning junior career, becoming Wimbledon junior champion at the age of 15, and enjoyed a lot of doubles success with Casey so it’s great to see them both back in action.

“Being a local girl, I’m sure Ash will have lots of support when she steps out for her first match, and we wish her every success both here in Brisbane and at the Australian Open.”