Ash Barty's success at the French Open and rise to the World's No. 1 spot has led to an unprecedented boom in Australian tennis, according to Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley and Fed Cup coach Nicole Pratt.
According to NowtoLove, Tiley says, "There's no doubt about the Ash effect, no doubt!" The evidence is in the numbers alone. There's been a 29 per cent increase in kids joining tennis this year and the uptake of girls is exponentially higher than previously recorded.
Ticket sales to the Australian Open are up 21 per cent on the same time last year. Those numbers are incredible. Ash is a superstar – the best in the world – but she's a great person too and that's a big part of her appeal.
People love watching her play because she has such a beautiful game, but we love her character too. Australians are right on board Ash's journey and she is creating a legacy which will last long beyond her own career."
Pratt, a former tennis player from Australia herself, says she has witnessed the effects of Barty's success first hand herself as her daughters, who she was never able to get interested in playing tennis, recently said that they wanted to play tennis like Barty.
Pratt says, "Matilda actually said the words, 'I want to play like Ash Barty' When I asked what she meant, she mimicked Ash's stance, swaying slightly, her mannerisms and her return of serve. I was absolutely blown away.
At that moment, I could see very clearly what Ash Barty is unwittingly doing, not just now, but for the future of tennis. There are a palpable groundswell and a sense of excitement about tennis thanks to Ash. She is bringing a love of the game back to the masses and it will only go from strength to strength."
Besides her on-court success, Barty's attitude and down-to-earth nature off the court have brought her many fans as well, including 21-year-old fellow pro Kim Birrell. "Ash's success gives all of us a greater sense of self-belief.
She lifts us all and gives us the confidence to believe that if we work as hard as Ash, we can follow in her footsteps. She is so rare. She walks into the gym, chats about her dogs, chats with everyone about what's going on in their lives.
Sometimes you pinch yourself thinking, 'Hang on, she's the world number one, she's a grand slam champion!' But that's Ash."