Ash Barty was worth over $20 million BEFORE her sensational Aussie Open win on Saturday night in Melbourne – and her riches will only increase after her victory.
She has a string of high profile sponsors, including car maker Jaguar, and has recently bought and built a mansion on acres west of Brisbane in Queensland.
She could have become a successful professional cricketer, having played briefly for Queensland, but women’s cricket could never offer her the riches tennis has afforded.
But Barty comes across as your mate next door, having a beer and talking sport.
She is undoubtably Australia’s national hero.
For Barty, her fame seems to come naturally now.
When she quit the sport in 2015, it may not have seemed so, but she has matured and the fact that her face is plastered on billboards all over Melbourne, doesn’t faze her one bit.
“She just rolls with it. It’s water off a duck’s back,” commented former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash.
Ash Barty’s Australian Open win on Saturday was major success for broadcaster Channel Nine, with 4.2 million viewers – big numbers for a relatively small TV market down under.
And Barty has extended her WTA No. 1 rankings lead over second placed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, with French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova rising one spot into third after making the quarterfinals in Australia.
Poland’s Iga Swiatek moves up five places into fourth, while Danielle Collins jumps up 20 places to be in the top ten for the first time after an impressive run to her maiden Grand Slam final.
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza drops four places into seventh after losing in the second round at Melbourne Park.
Barty sinks a beer … as fans reckon she’ll never have to pay for a beer in pub again!
The sport of cricket has played a part in Ash Barty’s sporting education, as many writers have acknowledged.
And there’s some elements of cricket shots that still occasionally show through.
Her cricket coach back in 2015 when she decided to drop out of tennis and try something else was Andy Richards, who has described her then as an “18-year-old with the maturity of a 30-year-old.”
When she was offered a tryout, she faced 150 deliveries and missed just three – such was her superb hand to eye co-ordination.
On her debut for the Brisbane Heat, Barty scored 27 runs from 39 balls.
“There was a six that she hit straight out of the Junction Oval,” Richards said later.
Few men have achieved that feat.
Richards believes cricket gave Barty a sense of belonging.
“She’s very much a team-oriented person, he said.
Cricket gave her that.
“In tennis, she didn’t have that as a young girl growing up, spending a lot of time away, overseas without a really strong network,” he added.
Tennis is considered an individual sport. But you’ll notice that when she talks, she always says ‘we’.
“She talks about her team. I think she had a lot of fun with us, she had a lot of freedom. And she’s carried that forward.”
Serena Williams can lay claim to persuading Ash Barty to return to tennis after she became disillusioned with the sport in 2015.
“Ash was in a restaurant I think and Serena sent her a message saying ‘You are too good a player to retire … you have to come back’,” Barty’s first coach Jim Joyce told the Brisbane Courier Mail last week.
And the loser… Danielle Collins. What’s next for her?
Collins should be rightly proud of her run to the final after a 2021 she would want to forget.
Despite losing, the American has broken into the top 10 for the first time.
Her run capped a remarkable turnaround since emergency surgery last year for endometriosis.
Its a condition where the tissue that lines the womb grows outside of it.
The surgery removed the problem, and the pain and she has won her first two WTA titles and made a maiden Grand Slam final since then.
And … Collins has achieved much of this without a coach.
“I really am having to coach myself. I think I went in with the right game plan. I did everything I could, but unfortunately there were some things that were just not working for me,” she said.
“That’s really hard technically if you’re not in a good place physically to be able to get yourself to do those things.
“Today my body wasn’t always agreeing with me, and I was in a little bit of a fight with my body, which is to be expected when you go this far in a tournament.
“You know, I think my assessment was generally pretty good. I think there are some areas I need to improve. I can certainly walk away proud without having a coach and kind of doing it on my own.”
Top-seeded Bruno Kuzuhara won the Australian Open junior singles title on Saturday in dramatic circumstances.
Kuzuhara beat fourth-seeded Jakub Mensik 7-6 (4), 6-7 (6), 7-5 in a match that lasted 3 hours, 43 minutes and ended with the Czech player having to be taken off Rod Laver Arena in a wheelchair with serious cramps.
The drama unfolded at the end of a 33-point rally won by Kuzuhara as Mensik fell to the court several times with cramps.
Kuzuhara came to his aid as medical staff rushed to help him from the court.
In his acceptance speech American Kuzuhara, 17, paid tribute to his opponent.
“First of all, it’s an unfortunate way to win it,” he said during the trophy presentation.
“It was a great fight. We pushed each other right to the end.”
“Great match. If you’re watching inside, thanks Man.”
And then there’s those wonderful behind the scenes shots…
And let’s not forget one Novak Djokovic. Tennis Australia certainly didn’t. All through the tournament, big screen ads promoting the Australian Open carried images of the banned world No.1.
But the final image must go to Ash Barty, as she is congratulated behind the scenes after her amazing victory.