Sport Tennis World No 1: Ashleigh Barty is first Australian woman to top tennis rankings in 43 years

World No 1: Ashleigh Barty is first Australian woman to top tennis rankings in 43 years

Ashleigh Barty
Barty will now go to Wimbledon as the top-seeded women's player. Photo: Getty
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Ashleigh Barty has capped a remarkable comeback from a 21-month hiatus by becoming Australia’s first women’s world No.1 tennis player in 43 years.

Barty claimed her third title of a phenomenal 2019 season at the Birmingham Classic on Monday morning (Australian time) when she cast friendship aside to down her German doubles partner Julia Goerges 6-3 7-5 in the final of the Birmingham Classic.

In the process, the 23-year-old Queenslander not only secured the world’s top tennis ranking, but will head to Wimbledon next week as the top seed.

“You always dream of it as a little kid for it but to become a reality, it’s just incredible. It really is,” Barty said.

“It’s not something that was even in my realm. This year we were aiming for top 10 and now to be where we are is really a testament to all the people around me,” she added.

“I have the most incredible team with me who have been with me these last three years and we started at scratch three years ago without a ranking and now, to be where we are, is not only for me but it’s a massive, massive achievement for them.”

Three years after quitting tennis, suffering depression and home-sickness, then remarkably forging a professional cricket career, Barty will overtake Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka when the new rankings are released later Monday.

In doing so, the French Open champion will join her mentor and Indigenous idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley as only the second Australian to top the WTA rankings since they were introduced in 1973.

A seven-times grand slam champion, Goolagong Cawley was No.1 for a fortnight in 1976.

John Newcombe, Patrick Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt, who enjoyed 80 weeks at the summit between 2001 and 2003, are the only other Australians to have scaled such heights.

“It’s been a whirlwind three weeks for me. It’s been a whirlwind year for me but to follow in the footsteps of Evonne, even to be mentioned in the same sentence as her, is incredible,” Barty said.

“What she’s done for our sport for Australians all around the world, not just based in Australia, she’s put us on the map.

“What she’s done for Indigenous Australians as well, she’s just been remarkable.”

Barty is the 27th woman in 46 years to top the rankings and the fourth youngest in a decade.

With her eyes firmly on Wimbledon and tennis’s greatest prize, Barty said she and her close-knit team – led by coach Craig Tyzzer – would not be getting carried away with their celebrations.

“We’ll just be very boring, to be honest,” she said.

“We’ve got a big couple of weeks coming up; make sure we’re ready to go, but we’ll certainly be having a beer or two.”

Ashleigh Barty
Barty now has her sights set on a Wimbledon crown. Photo: Getty

With just five defeats in almost eight months and a tour-topping 36 wins already this year, Barty’s ascension to the top is nothing but deserved.

Making a seamless transition from clay to grass, she didn’t concede a set in five matches in Birmingham.

She recovered from 3-0 down in the second set and saved a set point serving at 4-5 to see off Goerges, the world No.19 and a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year, in one hour, 28 minutes.

Barty will head to Eastbourne on Monday for her last Wimbledon warmup event riding a 12-match winning streak and having not dropped a set in seven outings on grass this year.

-with AAP

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