How Serena Williams helped revive Ash Barty’s tennis career

When Ash Barty claimed his first Australian Open title on Saturday, former world No. 1 Serena Williams probably had a knowing smile on her face.

While Barty has replaced Williams at the top of women’s tennis in recent years, it was the American who played a telling role in ensuring the Aussie got there.

Barty famously walked away from tennis in 2014 to pursue a cricket career, but after 15 months, he was finally lured back to the court.

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Among the reasons for her return, an encouraging text from Williams seems to have played a role.

“Ash was at a restaurant, I think, and Serena sent her a message saying ‘You’re too good a player to retire … you have to come back,’ ‘Barty’s first coach, Jim Joyce, told The Courier Mail earlier this week.

The two players met for the first time at the Australian Open in 2014, and although Williams won the match 6-2, 6-1, Barty left a clear impression on the American.

Since then, the duo have only played against each other on another occasion, with Barty intimidating Williams at the French Open in 2018 before the Aussie was defeated 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Williams, now 40, has not been able to take part in the last two Grand Slam events, and her last major victory now comes from the 2017 Australian Open.

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In her absence, Barty has taken the tennis world by storm. She earned her first Grand Slam victory at the 2019 French Open – the same year she claimed for the first time to be world No. 1.

After a challenging 2020, the Aussie has enjoyed fantastic for the last 12 months, winning the Wimbledon crown in 2021 before adding the 2022 Australian Open to her collection.

Barty defeated American Danielle Collins in the final 6-3, 7-6 (2) on Saturday. She went the entire tournament without losing a set.

The Australian’s first Grand Slam triumph at home has been celebrated far and wide, with even her supposed rivals touring with, a sign of how much respect she has earned on and off the pitch.

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