Melbourne, Australia, 30 October 2019 |

World No.1 Australian Ash Barty will showcase her inspirational journey to the pinnacle of tennis through a new campaign aimed at encouraging girls to stay in sport.

Barty, recently named Australia’s Sports Woman of the Year a week after becoming the first female tennis player to win The Don at the Sport Australia Hall of Fame awards, will feature in a new marketing campaign titled #PlayForYou targeted at teenagers.

The campaign, leveraging the success of Ash Barty and her story, will focus on empowering girls to play sport for themselves and to ignore peer and societal pressures.

A Sport Australia AusPlay 2018 survey reported that 36 per cent (one in three girls) stopped playing sport by the age of 18. Barriers teenage girls face centre around body image and the debilitating peer pressure to look good are also key factors in why teenagers drop out of sport.

Aside from captivating the sports world with her incredible athleticism, down-to-earth attitude and willingness to spend time motivating players at a grassroots level, the 2019 French Open champion’s own pathway included a much-documented pause in her tennis career at the age of 18 to refresh mentally and “experience life as a normal teenage girl.”

After a two-year break from the sport, Barty returned to tennis in 2016 and has been on a quick ascent ever since, holding onto the world No.1 ranking since the US Open in September 2019.

From November 9-10, Barty alongside Sam Stosur, Ajla Tomljanovic, Astra Sharma and Priscilla Hon will lead Australia in the Fed Cup Final against France in Perth, where the team are hoping to win the first title in 45 years.

READ: Barty to lead Australia’s Fed Cup team into final

“This campaign is very close to my heart, I think it’s beautiful because it encourages girls all across the nation to get involved, choose their own path and not listen to societal pressures. I was told a few times along the way that I was too short to make it,” said the world No.1.

“I have always loved playing sport and remember picking up a racquet for the first time when I was five. I love all sports, and have made so many friends and met so many wonderful people through my tennis journey. I feel very fortunate for the opportunities tennis has provided me.

“Aside from the obvious health benefits, sport is a fantastic way to develop confidence and feel good by doing something physical. I hope to see more girls take up sport, whatever they choose.

“You don’t have to be a professional athlete to experience the gifts sport delivers. The most important thing is having a go and having fun.”

The campaign will accompany increased opportunities for women and girls in tennis as part of $12 million of Federal Government funding announced in January. Spanning four years, the funding is being used to expand Tennis Australia’s already extensive women-in-sport initiatives.

These include a commitment to grow the number of female coaches, provide girl-specific talent development programs, foster female participation in community leadership and mentoring programs and to increase both the numbers of girls participating in tennis and those who go on to play the game competitively.

“We know girls often feel intimidated joining a sports club or exercising in public and we want to remove as many barriers to participation as possible,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said.

“Ash Barty is the perfect role model for young girls to challenge the status quo. She’s an unconventional champion who had the courage to do it her own way.”

A television commercial and social media content underpinning the campaign will highlight Barty’s core message: to stay true to yourself with the tagline, ‘I Play For Me’, ‘You Play For You’ and aims to combat some of the barriers around girls and sport.

Ash is joined in the campaign by six girls, aged 13-14, and her three-year-old niece, Lucy, who has been an ongoing source of encouragement throughout the intense spotlight of international sporting fame.

The campaign will run across the summer and Barty encourages women and girls to share their own stories as well as those featured in the campaign, using the hashtag #PlayForYou.

“If one girl decides to play sport – or not give up playing sport – then I’ll be extremely happy,” said Barty.

Minister for Youth and Sport Richard Colbeck said the initiative was all about improving physical activity and growing participation.

“We want to make Australia the world’s most healthy and active nation. Our national Sport 2030 plan is all about getting more Aussies more active, more often,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Ash Barty is an absolute superstar and we’re so pleased to be working with her as a role model for getting more women and girls into sport.” 

Source: Sport Australia AusPlay 2018 Survey. Note < 15 years of age is only based on non-school organised sport activities.