Tennis ace Barty named Australia's top athlete

AP

11th October, 2019 12:09:45 printer

Tennis ace Barty named Australia's top athlete

Tennis world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has been awarded Australian sport's highest individual honor.

Barty, who became Australia's first Grand Slam winner since 2011 at the French Open, won The Don Award at the annual Sport Australia Hall of Fame dinner on Thursday night.

"My parents taught me that being a good person is the most important thing in life. I try and live by that every day," the 23-year-old said, according to a report in The Australian.

"When I started playing tennis, my first coach Jim Joyce had four 'rules'. Be a nice person, respect people and be respected, have fun and, if you can play tennis, that's a bonus."

Barty was the first Australian to win the French Open in 46 years and is now aiming to become the first Australian woman to end the season with the number one ranking since Margaret Court in 1973.

It comes only five years after Barty announced she was taking an indefinite break from tennis.

Speaking on Thursday night, Barty said that the lessons she learned during her 12-month hiatus, during which she played cricket professionally, were instrumental in her rise to the number one ranking.

"It was a time to find myself as a person and as a pretty ordinary cricketer," she said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"Tennis is definitely my calling."

"It was just really nice to be around quality people and I promised myself when I came back into the sport that I'd surround myself with only the best. That's what I've been able to do."

In 1998, The Sport Australia Hall of Fame created 'The Don' Award - named after cricket legend Sir Donald Bradman - which honors a current Australian athlete or team considered to have inspired the nation the most over the previous 12 months.

Athletes who have won the award are not inducted into the Hall of Fame; however, once they have retired from the highest level of competition they become eligible for nomination.

On Thursday night, wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage became the first Australian Paralympian to be elevated to legend status within the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.


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