Sporting icons across the globe have praised tennis’ new world number one, as Ash Barty’s home state of Queensland prepares to celebrate the champion.
- Ash Barty is the first Australian woman to reach the top spot since 1976
- Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the triumph will be commemorated
- Tennis Queensland say Barty’s achievements have been an inspiration to other young players
Described as “humble” and “determined”, the 23-year-old cut her tennis teeth in suburban Brisbane, before smashing her way to the number one position overnight.
But even her die-hard local supporters were caught off-guard with the speed of Barty’s ascension to the coveted top spot.
“All of this has happened pretty quickly,” Tennis Queensland President Mark Bloomfield said.
“You know to go from Top 20, to French Open, to world number one has happened in a very short space of time.
“So there will be some celebrations for sure but we haven’t worked out what they are yet.”
Barty became the first Australian woman to reach the top of the rankings since seven-times Grand Slam champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley reached the sport’s pinnacle for two weeks in 1976.
The achievement has been lauded by sporting idols across the globe.
Former world number one Billie Jean King congratulated Barty on Twitter.
“With incredible versatility, perseverance, and focus, Ash Barty is an inspiration to the next generation of young players in Australia. Well done!” she said.
Paralympian Kurt Fearnley also heaped praised on the young star, labelling it the “sporting story of the year.”
Fellow Australian player Daria Gavrilova tweeted crying emojis with the message “My idol just became number 1”.
Mr Bloomfield said the Barty-effect was already in play, inspiring junior tennis athletes across the country.
“The fact they have a role model now, they’ve seen one of their own start as a five-year-old, learn here in Brisbane, go right through the ranks and come out as world number one, proves that they can all do it,” he said.
“The thing that strikes me about Ash is that she’s very humble. And she doesn’t get caught up in the glamour of being on the world tour.
“She goes about her business in a fairly methodical sort of way.
“And over the last two years she’s really worked on her fitness. She’s certainly stronger, she moves around the court faster.
“And I think that, with her improved maturity, has set her apart.”
Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk echoed the praise of Barty’s character.
@AnnastaciaMP: “Congratulations @ashbar96 – you’ve been our number one for a while now but now you’re numebr one in the world!”
“She’s a very humble Queenslander. There’s no airs and graces. She’s not arrogant. She just gets on with the job,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“It just goes to show that any young person can play at any tennis court in Queensland and end up an international champion.
Ash Barty had some time off tennis during which she pursued cricket, ultimately playing for the Brisbane Heat. (Facebook)
“To think that with her sheer determination and hard work, she had made it number one.”
In 2016, Barty was ranked 623 in the world after returning to the game from an 18-month stint playing Big Bash cricket with the Brisbane Heat.
Barty said the period helped her grow as a person after needing “time to step away” and “to live a normal life”.
It is not known when the Queenslander will be returning home to the Sunshine State.