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Australian Open 2019: Who is tennis superstar Ash Barty?

Get to know Australia's tennis golden girl.
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Aside from Alex de Minaur, Ash Barty is the fresh and fearless tennis champ Australia is rooting for at this year’s Australian Open.

The 22 year-old Queensland native is gaining a reputation for all the right reasons. Not only is she Australia’s number one, but Ash is currently ranked at number 15 in the women’s singles and number seven in women’s doubles. Tennis greats John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova even called her the best volleyer in the women’s game, but in classic Aussie fashion, Ash always keeps things down to earth.

“I don’t read the papers to start off with,” she laughed after her win against China’s Yafan Wang.

“When I’m playing well, I’m really enjoying myself out on court and that’s all I can ask of every match. If I win it’s a bonus, if I lose the sun still comes up the next day and it’s all good.”

But there’s a lot more to Ash than her tennis skills and cool, calm and collected demeanour. Get to know her here.

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Ash Barty is the one to watch at this year’s Australian Open. (Image: Getty Images)

Ash Barty’s childhood

Ash started her tennis career at the tender age of four and seeing as both her parents are athletes in their own rights, it’s no wonder she has a competitive streak.

“Some kids are born with it and some aren’t, but I was extremely competitive from when I was very young,” Ash told The Daily Telegraph.

According to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, her father Robert says Ash gave tennis a go after saying she didn’t want to play netball like her two older sisters as it was “what she thought was a girls’ game.”

Junior tennis coach Jim Joyce, who usually didn’t start coaching children until they were seven or eight, was blown away by her talent at such a young age.

“But the first ball I threw to her, bang! She hit it right back.”

“The whole time I was talking to the other kids, twice her age, she was just staring at me. She never took her eyes off me once.”

By the time she’d turned nine, Ash was practising against boys six years her senior. At 12, she was playing against male adults and by 14, Ash was playing in international tournaments but for the then-teenager, homesickness hit hard.

“It was terrible. It was all just too much. I was younger than the other girls on tour, so I knew them but not well. I just felt lonely and strange.”

At 15, Ash won the 2011 Wimbledon Girls’ Singles Final and became the first Australian girl to win any junior Grand Slam singles title since Jelena Dokic’s victory at the 1998 US Open.

15 year-old Ash after beating Russian player Irina Khromacheva during the 2011 Wimbledon Girls’ Singles final. (Image: Getty Images)

Ash Barty’s tennis career

In 2012, Ash made her Women’s Tennis Association debut at the Brisbane International and that same year, secured a wildcard for the 2012 Australian Open, her first Grand Slam event.

Since then, she’s seen massive successes around the world including reaching the third round at the 2017 Australian Open, coming from qualifying to win her first WTA title in Kuala Lumpur in March that year and cracking the top 100 placing at world number 92.

Ash won her second WTA title at the Nottingham Open in June 2018 but it’s her dream to secure a top 10 ranking.

And it’s not just tennis that Ash has proved she’s a dab hand at. In late 2014, she briefly pursued a career in cricket, playing for the Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash League.

Ash on day one of the 2019 Australian Open. (Image: Getty Images)

While her mother is the daughter of English immigrants, Ash’s father is a Ngarigo indigenous Australian and it’s clear her heritage is very important to her.

She’s also the National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador for Tennis Australia and is working to promote more indigenous participation in the sport.

“I’m very proud of my Indigenous heritage and to be named as a National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador,” she penned on Instagram.

“Giving back to my community is very important to me and I hope to inspire many more Indigenous kids to get active and enjoy their tennis.”

She also credits former world no.1 Evonne Goolagong Cawley as an inspiration.

“Evonne has absolutely created the pathway, not just for indigenous boys and girls, but kids across the nation,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

“She is just such a special person, and I’m incredibly lucky to share heritage with her. That is a very special part of me that I’m extremely proud of, and I know she is as well. To be able to call her a friend is even better.”

Ash is the National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador for Tennis Australia. (Image: Instagram @ashbar96)

Ash Barty on social media

When it comes to personal matters, Ash likes to keep things chilled and down to earth.

She’s been a Melbournite since she moved there at 16 and judging by her Instagram posts, loves cheering on her beloved Richmond in the AFL.

And like a true Melbourne local, she’s a lover of coffee and admitted in her post-match interview that her go-to coffee is “short and strong.”

Ash is also a massive animal lover and has been a vocal supporter of the RSPCA since 2018.

“Dogs are my favourite animal and right now I have 4 of them… Rudy, Maxi, Affie and Chino, a mixture of fluff ball breeds.”

Puppycinos all round! Ash is a proud dog mama to Rudy, Maxi, Affie and Chino. (Image: Instagram @ashbar96)

Ash has been in a relationship with Garry Kissick since 2017 (well, that’s when they started doing cute couple Instagrams at least).

“Thank you for being your cheeky and caring self every single day,” she said in a sweet tribute on his birthday in November.

You can follow her on Twitter here, see all her Instagram snaps here and like her on Facebook here.

Ash shared this loved-up snap with boyfriend Garry in November 2018. (Image: Instagram @ashbar96)

Ash Barty at the 2019 Australian Open

Now that she’s back on home turf, Ash wants to be the first local player to win the women’s title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

And Australia’s highest ranked player in the world is already off to a flying start after her 6-2 6-3 win against Yafan Wang.

“I can come out here and play with freedom, play my game,” Barty said.

Though she missed out to Czech Petra Kvitová in the Sydney International Final, Ash couldn’t wait to get to stuck into the Grand Slam.

“I’m so excited to be back at the Australian Open, it’s the best way for us to start the year as Australians,” she said.

WATCH: Ash Barty’s post-match interview at the 2019 Sydney International. Post continues…

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Ash even has her own dedicated fan base known as the Barty Army. Dressed in Vegemite T-shirts, you won’t miss them in the stands!

Nine journalist Steph Anderson even shared a video of her Aussie cheer squad ahead of her match.

Good luck Ash, Australia’s behind you!

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