The Aussie walked away from tennis in 2014 with no promises of coming back.Ashleigh Barty shocked the tennis world when she decided to step away from the game with no promises of a return back in 2014. The Aussie wasn’t happy and needed a mental break. Ultimately she decided to pick up cricket with the Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash League. It’s no surprise that Barty did return and ever since has found overwhelming success, securing her latest title at the Australian Open.
What inspired her to get back out on the court? According to Barty’s former coach Jim Joyce, it was 23-time major champion Serena Williams.
One day back in 2015, Serena texted Barty while she was out at a restaurant Joyce recalled in an interview with Courier Mail last week. Serena kept it short, but her words were powerful and it really motivated Barty to consider picking up a racquet again and giving tennis another shot.
“You are too good a player to retire…you have to come back,” Serena wrote.
Joyce enjoyed working with the current world No. 1 and believed it would have been a “huge waste” if she walked away from tennis. He wasn’t wrong and her incredible resurgence proves it. Back in 2019, just three years after returning to the WTA Tour she captured her maiden major title at Roland Garros. In the second round, Barty defeated Danielle Collins in straight sets, and the two recently met again Down Under.
Facing each other in the Australian Open’s final round, Barty and Collins showcased more amazing tennis, but with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) score it was Barty that took the title as champion yet again. She’s officially a three-time Grand Slam winner and ended a 44-year drought for Australia, becoming the first Australian to win the singles title in Melbourne since 1978.
A champion always recognizes another champion. Serena knew something special was within Barty, and without that text who is to say if the outcome would be the same.