Ashleigh Barty admitted she was rattled over the negativity she faced at the start of the season and the claims that Naomi Osaka deserved to be ranked at No. 1. Osaka won back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open but Barty retained her No.
1 ranking under the new WTA protected ranking system. Barty has been pretty consistent over the last few years as she finished the season as the year-end No. 1 for the third year in a row. “Holding the No. 1 ranking again to finish 2021 is something I am incredibly proud of after such a challenging and unusual season,” Barty told Code Sports .
“To have spent so much time on the road, to have asked the people I love and admire to support me and make sacrifices, and for us to prevail is an achievement to celebrate”. “When I look back at the season, there were four phases critical to holding on to the top ranking.
I felt people were questioning whether I was the rightful No. 1 given Naomi Osaka had won a couple of Grand Slams in succession. It was probably the first time I felt a little rattled and I really wanted to make a statement on the court”.
Barty sent a statement at the Miami Open
Barty won the Miami Masters in March and won Wimbledon a few months later. Barty didn't play after the US Open but still finished the year as No. 1. “Getting through that tournament – and playing so well at the end of it to defend my crown from 2019 – felt like a pivotal moment, particularly after overcoming a match point in my first-round match against qualifier Kristina Kucova,” Barty recalled.
“It was then that I realized I truly wanted to be the No 1. It was not about the accolades. It was the realization of my determination, the competitive drive that was burning. I thought, ‘You know what? Someone is going to have to be really, really good to take this off me”.