A long-term arm injury has forced new world No.1 Ashleigh Barty to withdraw from the Eastbourne International just days ahead of Wimbledon.
The 23-year-old Queenslander said the persistent problem, which has affected her right arm since she was a teenager, will not hurt her hopes of winning the Venus Rosewater Dish at Wimbledon.
The French Open champion, who has also anchored Australia to the Fed Cup final at Perth in November in a gruelling start to 2019, has opted to rest this week following her success at the Birmingham Classic on Sunday night, Australian time.
“It’s an injury I’ve had to manage since I was 16 years old,” Barty said at Devonshire Park on Monday.
“It happens when I have a spike in load. It’s just a bone stress injury and I need to look after it.
“We know how to manage it, but it is important to get on top of it straight away.”
Defeats Julia Gorges 6-3, 7-5! pic.twitter.com/hUel3jBl5D
— WTA (@WTA) June 23, 2019
In the meantime, Barty is hoping her connection with cricket coach Justin Langer will help score her a ticket for the sold-out clash between Australia and England.
The former Brisbane Heat player has never been to a World Cup match before and hopes Langer or one of the players can come up trumps.
“If it works out, we’ll try and get to the cricket, If not, we’ll be watching on telly,” Barty said at Devonshire Park on Monday.
“I’ve been In touch with most of them (the players). I heard from JL (Justin Langer) yesterday and we’ve been in touch over the last few months.
“Hopefully I can get there.”
Barty will be top seed at Wimbledon, which starts on July 1.
“We pulled out of the doubles [at Birmingham] to give it the best chance to be ready for (the) singles (final),” she said.
“It has been taken over the edge now and it is time to let my body rest, and manage it as best we can to make sure we are ready for next week.
“At the moment we know how we have to plan it over the next three or four days so we know it can be as good as it can be. If we do that well we should be fine.
The rest will allow Barty to reflect on her achievements, which have drawn praise from mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who was Australia’s first WTA world No.1 in 1976.
“In 2019, with all the pieces in place, her rise has been almost unstoppable,” Goolagong Cawley said on Monday.
“I am so proud that another Aboriginal player sits on top of the rankings in women’s tennis, particularly a young lady who conveys such happiness in all she does.”
Tennis legend Margaret Court, a winner of 24 grand slam singles titles, said Barty faced an even bigger challenge in trying to stay on top.
“It was always easier climbing up the ladder than staying there,” Court said. “That’s a real champion – to stay at the top.”
Fed Cup teammate and 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur says Barty’s laidback and rounded attitude will hold her in good stead.
“She is playing fantastic and grass is a surface that she openly says she can’t wait to get on every year,” Stosur said.