WASHINGTON, December 14, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
Editor’s note: The 2019 tennis season will be remembered for several new faces who emerged on both the ATP and WTA tours, such as Bianca Andreescu, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Ashleigh Barty, Daniil Medvedev and Coco Gauff.
Today, Tennis TourTalk continues a series of off-season features that highlight the breakout stars of the ATP and WTA tours with Ashleigh Barty.
Throughout her memorable 2019 season, Ashleigh Barty spoke often of “we” instead of “I” to define her success. With the affable Aussie, you see, it’s always a team effort first with individual achievements coming second.
Yet, when one looks back on what the 23-year-old Barty accomplished over the past 12 months, it’s pretty remarkable: first major title at Roland Garros, a Premier Mandatory triumph at Miami, a solid grass-court victory at Birmingham, rise to No. 1 in the rankings, and all capped by winning the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over defending champion Elena Svitolina. By winning, Barty was rewarded with the biggest pay check in tennis history – $4.42 million. At the end, she lifted the Billie Jean King Trophy and finished as the year-end No. 1.
Earlier this week, Barty was named WTA Player of the Year. It’s not really a surprise considering the kind of year she crafted. Yet, who could have predicted that Barty, who started the season ranked 15th –which at the time was a career-best ranking – would rise to the top in such a short period of time? After all, most eyes were focused on Naomi Osaka, who had won two straight majors and was ranked No. 1, until Barty overtook her in June. However, if one considers that Barty began the year by reaching the finals at Sydney and followed it with a quarterfinal result at the Australian Open, perhaps, these two results foreshadowed the success that soon followed the 5-foot-5 (1.66m) Australian.
“Bizarre, if I’m being completely honest,” Barty said after winning the WTA Finals in Shenzhen. “It feels like it’s been a year that just hasn’t stopped. It’s been a year of incredible ups and downs. I thin more ups than downs. To cap it off with a very, very special night … is really cool.”
With her year-end triumph, Barty became the first Australian since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1974 and 1876 to capture the WTA Finals title and only the fifth player to win the tournament in her debut. The Queenslander single-handedly put Australian women’s tennis back on the map. A week after her Shenzhen success, Barty almost lifted Australia to the 2019 Fed Cup, but came up one win short of success.
Looking back on 2019, Barty finished the season with the most wins on tour (57), the most Top 10 wins (12), and tied with Karolina Pliskova for the most titles won on tour (4). She won titles on all surfaces – outdoor hard court, clay, grass, and indoor hard court – and she was the only player to reach the second week of all four majors this year. That’s consistency.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) December 9, 2019
“To be able to call myself the year-end world No. 1 singles player is one of the proudest moments of my career,” Barty said after winning the WTA Finals title, quoted by the WTA Tour website. She gave props to her coach, Craig Tyzzer, who has guided Barty since her return to tennis in 2016 after taking a sabbatical from the sport to play professional cricket. He was recognized this week with WTA Coach of the Year honors. It is Tyzzer’s soft-spoken reassurance coupled with the positive guidance from her mental coach, Ben Crowe, who make up Barty’s valuable support team and together have helped guide her to World No. 1.
“The achievement is truly a team effort,” Barty reflected, “and I would not be receiving this honor or had the best season of my life with out the people around me who have supported me on this incredible journey.”