Almanac Tennis: Ash Barty – the perfect role model for young Australians

A lot can be said about a tennis player’s ego by their reaction to winning a match.


For Ash Barty, her immediate response to winning the French Open, her first Grand Slam, sums her character up to a tee. A smile breaking onto her face, which had been seriously concentrated for the past hour, Barty mouthed a the English language’s most versatile swear word in disbelief. With no fanfare, no illustrious celebrations, she gracefully hugged her opponent, shook the hand of the referee and clapped the Paris crowd.


In an era of flashy tennis, of showmanship and immense pressure, Barty has her feet planted firmly on the ground. For only 23, she belies her age and has shown a sense of awareness that is only reserved for sporting legends. Not many young adults would make the decision to take a break from tennis and go back home to play cricket (which she was talented enough to do in the Women’s Big Bash League). Barely a person of her age would then know when it is time to return to the sport, and then put her head down and work incredibly hard. Barty is a story of humility, hard work and respect.


Everything good about Barty’s last couple of years back in tennis was summed up in Paris the other night. Barely phased by the occasion, she came out and played precise tennis, hitting crisp winners and ripping consistent serves to pressure her younger opponent. If she made a mistake, there was no loud yelling, no racket throwing, no court violations. Her reaction remained the same as the one she would give when hitting a terrific winner. Deep down, her history in multiple sports made her realise it’s only a game. And when you understand that, Barty displayed how easy it is to let loose and give everything you have.


It’s hard to know whether there’s been a more deserving Australian sports champion in recent times. Every sporting winner has a story, an unseen marathon of hard work and persistence. Of overcoming adversity. But has anyone been as unassuming as Barty? Returning to tennis with a ranking that was all doom and gloom, there was no complaining. Any loss was never met with a criticism of an opponent, referee or official. She still lives in Ipswich – no Monte Carlo residence for her. When she speaks she is as down-to-earth Australian as anyone.


There’s no celebrity, no sense of scandal. Only a powerful small Australian woman who is level-headed, honestly kind and incredibly hard working. A ripper smile and a cheeky turn of phrase. Her rise to tennis stardom, and the number two ranking in the world, has been nothing short of amazing. Only three years after returning to the sport she has developed a game that is sound and ready to beat anyone. She has only lost five times in 2019, making a run to the semi finals and now conquering France. Barty seems to be the player who can perform aptly on any surface, as her power is her mental strength and dogged consistency. And with a smile on her face. Maybe an under the breath swear word here and there too, when she’s done something as remarkable as win a Grand Slam.


If you’re a youngster playing on the en-tout-cas of local tennis courts, don’t cast your eyes to Kyrgios for a role model. Whoever you are, we all deserve to give Barty the credit she deserves and view her as the archetype of a modern Australian sportsperson.



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  1. Willow Wilson says

    A great article Sean, I couldnt agree more. A humble winner who is respectful, down to earth, the kind of Australian tennis champion we have been looking for since Pat Rafter hung up his racquet. On the mens side Millman seems to have a similar outlook, hard working, honest and resilient.
    Bring on Wimbledon!

  2. Nice article Sean. Success often comes with hype and expectation from the media, sponsors, fans and hangers on who constantly feed the ego. How you cope/react has a lot to do with your personality and whether your closest confidants help you stay grounded. Up to now our humble champion has been ‘below the radar’. I truly hope Ash Barty remains unchanged should she experience more success at this level because she is refreshing.

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    Love the Barty Party! My mates and I are in a fairly fruity whatsapp group. I announced two years ago she was my favourite Australian Sportsperson and would win majors. I copped an earful, as you can imagine. Well, she has and I’m so happy for her. What a legend. The sky’s the limit now. May the party go on forever.

    And you’re right about her response to victory. No sense of entitlement; just disbelief and humility.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Love Ash. I confess I hadn’t seen her play recently before this tournament – she is getting everything out of herself now and amazing that someone at 166cm has the strongest serve on tour. Reckon she is so good she should be appreciated without reference to other Australian tennis players.

  5. Rulebook says

    Ash Barty what a breath of fresh air humble and a fighter fantastic to be able to watch and barrack for a aussie tennis player.Go The Barty Party

  6. Absolutely on the money, Sean.
    I also noticed the lack of histrionics after match point. It just sums her up.
    She is a bonafide superstar.

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