Three years ago, Ashleigh Barty was ranked No. 623 in the world following a two-year break from tennis to play professional cricket.
Monday, she had just completed a meteoric rise to the top – becoming the World No. 1 thanks to her latest victory at the Nature Valley Classic. The reigning Roland Garros champion defeated her good friend Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5 on Sunday, earning her sixth career WTA title and making a little history in the process.
Barty become just the second Australian to ever earn the top singles ranking on the WTA Tour, and the first since her mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley managed the feat 43 years ago. Among the first people to congratulate Barty was Goerges, who took to Twitter after their match in Birmingham.
Great week here in Birmingham, many positives to take from the week and glad to have gotten so many grass court matches ahead of Wimbledon. 🌱🌱 Huge congrats to @ashbar96 and her team for the title, becoming world number 1 #teamjule #Wimbledon #NatureValleyClassic pic.twitter.com/1VIaO8MW5W
— Jule Goerges✌️🇩🇪 (@juliagoerges) June 23, 2019
It’s been an incredible year for the Queenslander, one filled with many firsts. In 2019, Barty started off the year by reaching her first-ever Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open. She then won her maiden WTA Premier Mandatory title in Miami, made her Top-10 and Top-5 debut, claimed her first career Grand Slam trophy in Paris, all before grabbing the World No. 1 ranking this weekend.
She becomes just the 27th woman to attain the top spot on the WTA Tour, ending Naomi Osaka’s 21-week reign. Barty naturally overwhelmed after attaining the feat, told the WTA: “It’s a dream come true to be the World No. 1. My team and I have put in so much work and I’m very proud of what we have achieved.” She added, “It’s an honor to be in this position, which has been held by the legends of our sport who I respect and admire greatly.”
— Ash Barty (@ashbar96) June 23, 2019
Barty is the first player to secure three titles on the WTA tour this season. Earlier on Monday, she announced that she has been forced to withdraw from this week’s Nature Valley International with a right arm injury. However, Barty seems confident that she will be ready for Wimbledon, where she could be the top seed. When asked by the WTA how she would handle the pressure, Ash wasn’t quite sure. “I don’t know, I’ve never done it before!” she laughed. “But it’s an exciting challenge.”
(Photo: Getty Images/WTA Tour)