Established in 2010, the Newcombe Medal has been there to admire the most accomplished Australian competitors over the years, with Samantha Stosur, Lleyton Hewitt, Nick Kyrgios, Sam Groth, Dylan Alcott, Ashleigh Barty and Alex de Minaur on the list of honored players.
Samantha Stosur claimed the award in the first three editions and it is Ashleigh Barty who has followed the footsteps of her Fed Cup teammate, standing tall between 2017-19 to join the veteran in the record books. In 2018, Ashleigh shared the award with Alex de Minaur and there was no one to challenge her in the season behind us, winning Roland Garros and the WTA Finals to become the first Aussie as the year-end no.
1 player. Stosur secured the Spirit of tennis award while Talia Gibson and Rinky Hijikata grabbed the junior honors. Still, it was all about Ashleigh on Monday night in Melbourne, with the entire Australian tennis community celebrating what this outstanding young girl achieved in the season behind us.
Returning to tennis, Barty made stellar progress in 2017, motivated to chase even higher goals in 2018 when she won titles in Nottingham and Zhuhai. Everything was ready for a historic 2019 season that Ashleigh kicked off with the final in Sydney and the quarter-final at the Australian Open.
In March, Barty went all the way in Miami to lift a notable trophy and find herself in the top-10 for the first time, leading Australia towards the Fed Cup final with a triumph over Belarus in April and becoming the first player with six victories in live Fed Cup rubbers in the first two ties of the World Group.
Ashleigh saved her best tennis for Roland Garros, scoring seven triumphs to claim the first Major crown and adding another Premier title to her tally in Birmingham, becoming a serious year-end no. 1 contender. The Aussie became world no.
1 ahead of Wimbledon, staying there the most of the time despite not playing that well at Wimbledon and after, suffering losses in the semi-final in Cincinnati and Wuhan and the final in Beijing before another incredible run in Shenzhen in the season-ending event.
The Aussie conquered the WTA Finals to confirm the year-end no. 1 status and cement her position on the WTA throne ahead of 2020 season and home events in Australia where she wants to chance more glory, especially at the Australian Open.
"I'm incredibly grateful and very humbled to be here tonight," Barty said. "This is not about individual athletes - it's a night of celebration for everyone involved in tennis and everyone that's a part of our tennis family.
Congratulations to everyone else who's in this room. It takes a village and we are a big tennis family. I'm very humbled to be here tonight."