World Number One Barty wins hearts around the globe
THERE'S no stopping Ash Barty.
Fresh from winning her maiden grand slam singles crown in Paris a couple of weeks ago, the Aussie tennis star has even more reason to crow after jumping to top spot on the world rankings.
Barty secured the No. 1 position, usurping Japan's Naomi Osaka, by defeating Julia Goerges in straight sets at the final of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham late last night (AEST).
The world can't get enough of the 25-year-old and some more Hollywood star power showed its support for the loveable girl from Queensland after her latest achievement.
Aussie acting icon Hugh Jackman lauded Barty on Twitter after she advanced to the French Open final and this time cinema star Russell Crowe joined the love-in, tweeting his congratulations.
Ash Barty.— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) June 23, 2019
Barty is only the fifth Australian to be crowned World No. 1 after rankings were introduced in 1973, joining Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Pat Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt and John Newcombe in the exclusive club.
That makes her just the second Aussie female to hold the title after Goolagong Cawley in 1976, and the 27th woman ever to boast about being No. 1.
SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS
Not since Hewitt in 2003 has Australia laid claim to the best player in the world - male or female - and Barty is now the only woman on tour to have won three WTA events this year after kicking on from her Miami Open triumph to win at Roland Garros and now Birmingham.
Making Barty's achievement even more extraordinary is it comes less than five years since she took time out from tennis to play cricket in 2014.
BARTY REALISES A CHILDHOOD DREAM
Barty said it had been a childhood dream to be No. 1, even though this year her and her team had only targeted the top 10.
"You always dream of it as a little kid, but for it to become a reality is incredible, it really is," said Barty after receiving the trophy in a tournament she had not dropped a set in.
"It's been the most incredible journey for myself and my team. To have this become a reality … I didn't think that was in my realm this year.
"We started from scratch without a ranking and now to be where we are, not only for me, is a massive, massive achievement for them."
Barty said it was an honour to follow in Goolagong Cawley's footsteps. "To be able to follow in the footsteps of Yvonne, even to be mentioned in the same sentence as her, is incredible," Barty said.
"What she's done for our sport, for Australians all around the world, not (those) just based in Australia, she's put us on the map.
"And what she's done for indigenous Australians is just remarkable."
ASH IS ALL CLASS
True to form, while all the attention was on Barty, she didn't overlook the person on the other side of the net. She and Goerges were supposed to play in the doubles final the day before but pulled out to concentrate on the decider, and Barty couldn't speak highly enough of the German.
"Jules is an incredible competitor, she's never going to hand a match over lightly and she's always going to come up with her best stuff when her back's against the wall," Barty said.
"Jules is always someone who's made time for me, ever since I started on tour.
"That relationship has just grown but Jules and her whole team have always made time for me, we've always enjoyed practising together and spending time with each other.
"It's hard playing a friend but in a final you'd love to play your friend knowing you've both earnt that spot."
TENNIS WORLD REACTS
Members of the tennis community were quick to hop aboard the Barty train.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King heaped praise on Barty, making a point you won't often hear about some of Australia's male stars. "Congratulations to World No. 1, @ashbar96. With incredible versatility, perseverance, and focus, Ash Barty is an inspiration to the next generation of young players in Australia. Well done!" she wrote on Twitter.
Fellow professional Victoria Azarenka called Barty a "humble beast" on Twitter, followed by a love heart emoji, as plenty of others also weighed in.
Correction: Three years ago last month, Ashleigh Barty returned to singles at a 50k grass-court tournament in Eastbourne without a ranking and only got in the qualifying draw because it wasn't full. Tomorrow, the 23-year-old will be No 1 in the world.— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) June 23, 2019
The ranking rise of Ash Barty after restarting her career.— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) June 23, 2019
May 2016 - unranked
Dec 2016 - 272
Dec 2017 - 17
Dec 2018 - 15
June 24, 2019 - No.1
A stunning rise to the top in just 3 years.
Well done @ashbar96 @CTyzzer and your entire team 🇦🇺💚💛👏