Why French Open Champion Ash Barty Left Tennis to Play Cricket

After two years away, Ash Barty returned to the tour and on Saturday lifted her maiden Grand Slam title.

Updated09 Jun 2019, 03:45 AM IST
Tennis
2 min read

After the US Open five years ago, Ashleigh Barty left competitive tennis. She had been a successful junior, winning the 2011 Wimbledon girls' title, and played in three doubles finals by then, too.

But she needed to get away, needed a break from tennis, from the pressure and expectations, from the week-in, week-out grind. So she stepped away in 2014 and wound up trying her hand at cricket, joining a professional team at home in Australia. She played the women’s Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat.

But after two years away, Barty returned to the tour and on Saturday, 8 June, she lifted her maiden Grand Slam title after defeating 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-3 in the women’s singles final of the French Open.

On why she stepped away from tennis in the first place, Barty said:

“I never closed any doors, saying, ‘I’m never playing tennis again.’ For me, I needed time to step away, to live a normal life because this tennis life certainly isn’t normal. I think I needed time to grow as a person, to mature.”

And as for why she came back three years ago?

"I missed the competition. I missed the 1-on-1 battle, the ebbs and the flows, the emotions you get from winning and losing matches," said Barty, who will jump to a career-best No. 2 in the rankings on 10 June behind Naomi Osaka.

"They are so unique and you can only get them when you're playing and when you put yourself out on the line and when you become vulnerable and try and do things that no one thinks of."

Barty’s journey won several hearts on Twitter, and even left people in awe.

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Published: 08 Jun 2019, 11:18 PM IST
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