Australia’s top ranked tennis player is back where it all began. Ashleigh Barty returns home tomorrow to receive the Key to the City of Ipswich.
The Springfield 21-year-old will be honoured at George Alder Tennis Centre just weeks after winning the 2017 Newcombe Medal as the nation’s most outstanding player.
“I definitely didn’t expect to be where I am in the tennis world or receiving the Key to the City,” Barty told Ipswich First.
“I am very proud of where I come from so it means a lot to me.
“Ipswich will always be my home and I want to thank the local community for their support over the years.”
Barty began her professional career at the 2010 City of Ipswich Tennis International at the Alder clay courts in Leichhardt.
She was beaten by fellow Aussie Karolina Wlodarczak but success soon followed, winning the 2011 Wimbledon Girls’ Singles title over Irina Khromacheva.
The powerful right-hander made her WTA debut at the 2012 Brisbane International, followed by her first grand slam at the 2012 Australian Open.
Her advice to young Ipswich tennis players is simple – have fun and enjoy what you’re doing.
“Tennis is a sport you can play your whole life but I think keeping it fun at a young age is the most important thing,” she said.
“Even now, my life hasn’t changed too much. My team and I try to keep things as normal as possible and focus on preparing for the Aussie summer.
“Away from tennis I most enjoy spending time with my family and friends, watching the cricket, playing golf and taking my puppies for a walk.
“I just love being home and in my house for more than a week.”
Barty started 2017 ranked 271 in the world. She will farewell the year as number 17 after making three WTA tour finals and claiming her maiden top-level title in Malaysia.
She also paired with “best mate and tour mum” Casey Dellacqua to be runner-up in the French Open doubles.
The ‘ABCD’ duo is the first all-Australian women’s team to reach the finals at all four grand slams in the open era.
“I’m really happy with my 2017 season,” Barty said of her success.
“I felt like the match against Garbine Murguruza in Birmingham was a turning point for me – this was my first win over a top 20 player for the year and gave me a lot of confidence.
“My win against Venus Williams in Cincinnati was also a highlight. Venus is a champion and someone who I have a huge amount of respect for.”
Barty is now working towards the Brisbane International starting 31 December and will take the court at the Australian Open as a seeded player from 15 January.
As always, her approach is straight down the line.
“My goal is to keep focused on my own game, take one match at a time and do the Aussie fans proud,” Barty said.
You’re invited to watch Ashleigh Barty receive the Key to the City of Ipswich at George Alder Tennis Centre at 2.30pm tomorrow, Saturday 16 December.