Despite the Grand Slams being shared out, 2019 has been Ashleigh Barty’s year after winning the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
After winning four titles from six finals in 2019, including the French Open, Miami Open and WTA Finals, the talented Australian also clinched the year-end No 1 ranking for the first time in her career.
Barty has emerged on top after what has been a dramatic and compelling year that has again seen four different major champions and the emergence of a teenage superstar in Coco Gauff.
The 23-year-old defeated defending champion Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-3 to claim 4.42million US dollars (£3.4m) – the biggest prize money in tennis history at the weekend.
Did you know…
Barty became the 14th WTA player since the inception of computer rankings in 1975 to achieve the accolade of becoming the season-ending world No 1.
It’s been a successful road back for Barty, who has come a long way since her singles debut as a 15-year-old at the Hobart International in 2012.
She was disillusioned by tennis in 2014 and quit the sport to play a season for Brisbane Heat in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League in 2015-16. When she did return to the game, she cracked into the top 100 after winning her maiden title in Kuala Lumpur.
Born and raised in Queensland, Barty continued to rise up the rankings and further titles followed in 2018 with victory in Nottingham and Zhuhai.
Incredible âœ¨ pic.twitter.com/jf4j96owF6
— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) November 3, 2019
Under the guidance of coach Craig Tyzzer and conditioning coach Mark Taylor, she reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, before winning her first Premier mandatory tournament in Miami. She soon broke into the top 10.
Then came her maiden Slam title at Roland Garros before the floodgates opened. Victory in Birmingham handed her No 1 for the first time in her career. The WTA Finals in Shenzhen came on her tournament debut.
“It feels like it’s been a year that just hasn’t stopped,” Barty told the official WTA website. “It’s been a year of incredible ups and downs – I think more ups than downs. To cap it off with a very, very special night tonight in Shenzhen is really cool.”
Year-End @WTA Top 101. Ashleigh Barty ðŸ‡¦ðŸ‡º2. Karolina Pliskova ðŸ‡¨ðŸ‡¿3. Naomi Osaka ðŸ‡¯ðŸ‡µ4. Simona Halep ðŸ‡·ðŸ‡´5. Bianca Andreescu ðŸ‡¨ðŸ‡¦6. Elina Svitolina ðŸ‡ºðŸ‡¦7. Petra Kvitova ðŸ‡¨ðŸ‡¿8. Belinda Bencic ðŸ‡¨ðŸ‡9. Kiki Bertens ðŸ‡³ðŸ‡±10. Serena Williams ðŸ‡ºðŸ‡¸
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) November 3, 2019
Barty is set to lead her country in next week’s Fed Cup final as she heads for Perth to lead Australia against France. She will then begin her 2020 campaign on home soil as the No 1 player in the world.
“I’m in a very unique situation, in a very unique position, that at the moment, at this moment in time, no other person on the planet is in my position,” Barty said on the WTA Insider Podcast. “I think it’s incredibly scary, but it’s exciting. I’ve worked my whole life to try and get to this point to say what it feels like. Each day it brings new challenges. Each day it brings new, exciting things.