Ashleigh Barty has secured the year-end no. 1 position for the first time in a career, becoming the 14th different player on that special list established in 1975. The young Aussie clinched one of the greatest honors after the maiden victory at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, ousting Belinda Bencic after a brilliant performance in sets two and three and earning enough points to stay safe ahead of Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova and other opponents.
The Ipswich native had left tennis for a couple of years before making a return in May 2016, playing four events that season and embracing a memorable run in 2017 from just inside the top-300. Ashleigh won the first WTA title in Kuala Lumpur in March and reached another final on grass in Birmingham that she lost to Petra Kvitova, qualifying for the main draw in Toronto and Cincinnati and advancing into another final in Wuhan to finish the season inside the top-20.
Motivated to chase even higher goals in 2018, Ashleigh conquered titles in Nottingham and Zhuhai and everything was ready for a historic 2019 season that she 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 find herself in the top-10, leading Australia towards the Fed Cup final with a win over Belarus in April to become 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 Major crown and adding another Premier crown to her tally in Birmingham. The Aussie became world no. 1 ahead of Wimbledon, staying there the most of the time despite not claiming any titles after Birmingham, suffering losses in the semi-final in Cincinnati and Wuhan and the final in Beijing, hoping to go all the way in Shenzhen and close already memorable season in the best possible way.