Indigenous Australian Ash Barty becomes tennis world number one

By Te Ao - Māori News

Ash Barty holds up the Birmingham final trophy (Photo: ABC)

Ash Barty has ascended to the WTA's world number one tennis ranking, after victory at the Birmingham Classic over the weekend. It means she is now the first Australian to reach the top spot since fellow Indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

On Sunday, the 23-year-old added the Birmingham Classic to the French Open title she won earlier this month by beating Germany's Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5 for her 11th successive victory. It’s another milestone in the career of the exceptionally talented Queenslander.

"It's just been the most amazing journey for myself and my team and we've got to this point by doing all the small things right," Barty told the ABC after her victory.

"It's certainly just been the most amazing month of tennis for us and really an amazing three years

Barty is a Ngarigo Indigenous woman through her father’s side, and has also played professional cricket with the Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League.

Former Australian men’s great Todd Woodbridge has said that Barty had the ‘intuition of a crafty player’ from a young age.

“What stood out at that particular time was her ability to have soft hands and be creative with the tennis, not just whacking a ball aimlessly. She always had what I call a placid nature. What she has been blessed with is having parents who have handled her almost perfectly, supported her and guided her, and kept pressure away from her as much as possible.” he told The Guardian.

Barty’s next big challenge is the upcoming Wimbledon tournament, where she will aim to become the first Australian women’s champion since Goolagong Cawley’s win in 1980.