“I think I just needed to find myself a little bit."
In 2014, just four years after turning pro, former Wimbledon junior singles champion Ashleigh Barty had already reached three Grand Slam doubles finals and was quickly navigating tour life. Then the 18-year-old made a stunning announcement: she was walking away from tennis.
Following her departure, Barty joined the Brisbane Heat—her hometown cricket team.
"There's never a lonesome moment on the field if you're struggling,” she said about her sudden change in sport. “There's 10 other girls that can help you out and get you through the tough times."
It didn’t take long before the Aussie returned to her first athletic love, though, picking her racquet back up in the summer of 2016. And it didn't take long for her win, either. In her first event back, a $50,000 ITF grass-court tournament in Eastbourne, Barty won six matches before losing in the semifinals. A week later, in Nottingham, she went 5-1. The following February, she won her maiden WTA title in Kuala Lumpur. By the end of the season, she broke into the Top 20.
After maintaining her form in 2018, Barty broke out the next year, beginning with a title run in Miami. Three months later, she captured her first Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros, becoming the first Australian to win the tournament in 46 years.
"I never dreamt that I'd be sitting here with this trophy here at the French Open," she said. "I mean, obviously we have dreams and goals as children, but this is incredible."
Just two weeks later, on grass, she claimed the Birmingham title and clinched the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings for the first time. Australia's history of top-ranked players is legendary, but Barty's rise to the top was the first since Evonne Goolagong Cawley, in 1976.
“You always dream of it as a little kid, but for it to become a reality is just incredible,” Barty said of reaching No. 1. “It’s a testament to all of the people around me. I’ve had some incredible people with me these last few years.”
She would cap off her stellar season with another big title run at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen. With it came a tennis-record—for men or women—$4,420,000 pay day.
Off the court, the Queensland native enjoys trading in her racquets for golf clubs (in addition to a cricket bat). Last September, she was crowned the Brookwater Golf Club women’s champion, having qualified as a top seed.
At just 23, Barty’s resume is already very well-rounded.
Each month, we'll feature one well-rounded professional tennis player in our ZipRecruiter Player Resumes. For more, click here.