Top-ranked Barty driven by Wimbledon ‘dream’

SYDNEY (AFP) – World number one Ashleigh Barty won’t have a chance to fulfil her dream of winning Wimbledon this year, but she remains laser-focussed on being crowned champion at the All-England Club.

The Australian won the junior Wimbledon title as a 15-year-old in 2011, but the expectations that came with that success took their toll and she made a shock decision three years later to ditch tennis for cricket.

“In short, I think I needed just to find myself,” Barty, who is skipping the upcoming US Open due to coronavirus fears, said in an interview yesterday with broadcaster ABC of her move to the Brisbane Heat cricket team.

“I felt like I got twisted and maybe a little bit lost along the way in the first part of my career.”

While cricket gave her “a different perspective about sport”, the lure of tennis was never far away, driven by an ambition to taste success again at Wimbledon.

“My dream is winning Wimbledon. Without a doubt,” said Barty, who returned to tennis in 2016.

“It took a long time for me to say that out loud. It took a long time for me to have the courage to say that out loud, but that’s what I want. That’s what I want to work towards.

“Being able to win junior Wimbledon was really special, but it just gave me a taste of what it’s really like.”

She has been robbed of the opportunity this year, with the tournament cancelled for the first time since World War II due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

The 24-year-old already has one Grand Slam title to her name, winning the French Open last year, which helped her surge to the top of the world rankings where she has stayed since.