Slams, superb stats and celebrations – A look back on the achievements of Ash Barty
Ash Barty won the biggest titles on the biggest stages and led the WTA at a time of such depth in talent. Here, Tennishead looks back on some of the Australian’s greatest sporting achievements.
One Among Number Ones – How the Aussie stacks up against other WTA frontrunners
Ash Barty first achieved the status of world number one in June 2019 at the age of 23.
She became just the 27th woman to ever top the WTA rankings since their introduction in November 1975.
After a short stint of seven weeks at number one, Barty was displaced by Naomi Osaka, the same woman she overtook in the first place.
After regaining the number one spot in September that year, Barty has not let go since, enjoying 113 consecutive weeks, more than two years, in top spot at time of publication.
This puts Barty joint fourth in terms of longest WTA streaks at number one, level with Chris Evert and only behind Martina Navratilova (156 weeks) and Steffi Graf and Serena Williams, who both claimed runs of 186 weeks.
In terms of total weeks in the position, Barty comes in at seventh behind Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Evert, Serena, Navratilova and Graf.
Finally, Barty is one of just five women to have three consecutive year-end number one crowns, with the other four all being certifiable legends of the sport.
Evert achieved three consecutively from 1975 to 1977, Navratilova had five from 1982 to 1986, Graf had four, achieved twice from 1987 to 1990 and 1993 to 1996, and Serena had three from 2013 to 2015.
She was the fifth Australian ever to become world number one and just the second woman after Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
A National Icon – How Barty revived Australian tennis
Australia has historically been a tennis powerhouse, boasting greats like Rod Laver, Margaret Court, John Newcombe, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Ken Rosewall and Roy Emerson to name a few.
In national competitions the same has been true, with the nation second all-time for most Davis Cup wins with 28, only behind the USA, and third in terms of Billie Jean King Cup formerly Fed Cup) wins, with seven titles.
However, before Barty, only Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Stosur had claimed singles Slam titles in the 21st century.
Hewitt won the US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002, while Stosur won the US Open in 2011.
Perhaps more significantly, no home talent had won the Australian Open singles, men’s or women’s since Chris O’Neil won the ladies’ event in 1978.
After Barty won her first Slam at the 2019 French Open, she led her Australian Fed Cup team all the way to the final before eventually falling to France.
It was a first Fed Cup final for the nation since 1993, so an impressive feat in that regard already.
The 2019 Australian Open was Barty’s best Slam singles result to that point before she triumphed at Roland Garros for her first Major title.
A semi-final run in Melbourne in 2020 was heartbreaking for the home crowd as they hoped for an ended to the more than 40-year wait for an Aussie singles titlist.
Another quarter-final in 2021 spelled fears it would never happen, before Barty entered 2022 in the form of her life.
Having won Wimbledon in 2021 and rested early at the end of the season, the 25-year-old was fresh and ready to go full tilt at the Melbourne title.
And full tilt is accurate as Barty won the event without dropping a set to end a 44-year drought for a home singles winner.
Slam Glory – How Barty could do it almost anywhere almost every time
While Barty did not have a career that spanned over a decade at the top of the game like Serena Williams, Martina Navratilova or Chris Evert, she was highly versatile in her most prolific period from 2019 to 2022.
At the time of her retirement, Barty was one of only five active players to claim Slams on hard, clay and grass courts.
The others are of course Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, all of whom have achieved the Career Grand Slam.
Moreover, when Barty reached a Slam final, she won it. She only played three Major singles finals and won them all, becoming the sixth woman to achieve the feat of winning her first three Slam finals.
Virginia Wade, Lindsey Davenport and Jennifer Capriati also won their first three, Naomi Osaka won her first four and Monica Seles won her first six.
Miscellaneous Moments – Other accolades
While her time at world number one is testament to her quality, Barty made sure to add the WTA Finals to her accolades in 2019.
After first becoming world number one earlier that year, the Australian entered the Shenzhen event in top form.
She won two of her three group stage matches before rallying from behind against world number two Karolina Pliskova to reach the championship match.
Fittingly, Barty then ousted 2018 defending champion Elina Svitolina in straight sets in the final to take the title.
Entering the Covid-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Barty was the newly crowned Wimbledon champion and arguably favourite to take home singles gold.
However, the top seed was shocked in her first match by world number 47 Sara Sorribes Tormo, just her fifth loss of the season.
All was not lost though as Barty was entered in the doubles and mixed doubles, claiming bronze in the latter alongside compatriot John Peers.
Going Out On Top – The Barty Party
To end our look back let us focus on the end of Barty’s career.
Entering 2022, Barty had not played since the US Open in September 2021 and had returned home to Australia to rest and recuperate after a long season on the road.
Barty played the WTA 500 Adelaide International to kick off her new season, but in her first match trailed American teenage sensation Coco Gauff 6-4 4-2 before clawing her way back to win the match.
She then won the tournament without dropping another set, defeating fellow Slam champions Sofia Kenin and Iga Swiatek en route to the final where she downed Elena Rybakina for a 14th career WTA singles title.
Barty then entered the Australian Open as heavy favourite and very much lived up to the hype.
As mentioned, Barty won the event without dropping a set, meaning she finished her career on an 11-match and 22-set win streak.
Justine Henin is the only other WTA world number one to have retired while holding the top spot.
The Belgian came out of retirement again in 2010, so who knows if Barty might do the same…
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