Australian’s love an underdog story, we get behind the battler and those whom have struggled against the odds to achieve greatness. Ash Barty ticks all those boxes and then some. In 2014 she took time away from tennis to play cricket, in 2016 she was unranked and 18 months ago she was fighting through qualifiers to enter major tournaments. Fast forward to today and she holds the number 1 ranking, the French Open title and the hearts of Australians everywhere. The 23 year old will go into Wimbledon as the no.1 seed and will carry the weight of a nation. Yet many former and current players, including Victoria Azarenka who tweeted “Humble Beast” with a heart emoji, have been quick to acknowledge the humility and grace with which Barty carries herself. Even in the wake of her latest victory at the Nature Valley Classic in Birminghamshe was heaping praise onto her opponent and acting with class.
Maybe it can be put down to needing someone to idolise, to criticise and to follow when the major events occur, but our choice of ‘superstar’ to follow has been poor in recent years. Constant media coverage of players like Benard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios send mixed messages to tennis fans and the younger generations. We make excuses for their poor on and off court behaviour, forget about it the next time the Kyrgios produces a trick shot and we say that their antics are good for the game.We celebrate them when they achieve moderate success on a minor scale. How have we become like this? Since when did we accept that stars can behave like brats because they are stars?
In Ash Barty we have a hard working, dedicated, humble and extremely talented women whom embodies everything we have needed in Australian tennis for the past decade. Someone that we can look to and be proud not only of their play on court, but the way they hold themselves off court.