Between the spring of 2015 and February 2016, Ashleigh Barty put tennis aside and embraced cricket, something she had always been finding interesting and exciting. The Ipswich native returned to tennis 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 lift a notable trophy and find herself in the top-10 for the first time, leading Australia towards the Fed Cup final with a win 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 Major crown and adding another Premier title 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 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. Before that, Ashleigh found time to hit Allan Border Field again on Wednesday, visiting her Brisbane Heat teammates and receiving club's Number One Ticket Holder award.
Ashleigh will try to watch as many matches as possible during her breaks from tennis in the next couple of weeks, opening the season in Brisbane and Adelaide before the Australian Open. "I have some very fond memories of playing for the Heat and made a lot of great friends during my time here.
It is an honor to be asked to be the club's Number One Ticket Holder and I am excited to continue showing my support. I love watching the WBBL and BBL in between my summer schedule and can't wait to see the girls in action during the finals series next week," said Barty.
"Ash is a global sporting star and we have been incredibly proud of watching her rise to become the world's best player. Though she was only with us for one season, her professionalism and work ethic to improve her game was contagious and has undoubtedly rubbed off on many members of our squad, which is evident in the way they play and prepare.
I know our WBBL squad is extremely thankful for her ongoing support and we are delighted to welcome her as the Brisbane Heat's Number One Ticket Holder," said Brisbane Heat General Manager Andrew McShea.