Ashleigh Barty: How did cricket contribute to her win in the Australian Open 2022?

Australia's 44-year ceaseless wait comes to an end as Ashleigh Barty brings the prestigious trophy back home.

Pritha Ghosh
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Ashleigh Barty | Australian Open 2022 |

Source: Indiatoday

Australia's 44-year ceaseless wait abolishes as home favourite Ashleigh Barty brings the prestigious trophy back home. She defeated America's Danielle Collins by 6-3 7-6(7-2).

The breath-taking sublime match that ended the 44-year old wait, witnessed a variety of shots. From smooth slice shots, thunderous two-handed backhand shots, the forehand top-spins to the Volleys, the match witnessed it all. Just like the match, Ashleigh Barty's interest in sports varied from time to time. From playing cricket and golf to finally finding her peace in tennis rackets, the Three-times grand slam champion has aced it all.

However, it was during practice when Ashleigh Barty casually slipped the tennis ball from her hip. That was a deliberate peek to the leg, that attracted the most attention.

Read also: Australian Open 2022: Ashleigh Barty brings back the glory

It was 2015, and Barty was a doubles competitor as well as a solo potential when she decided to retire from a sport she had been playing since she was four years old. Afterwards, When Barty was asked to speak at the national women's cricket team dinner, she was guiding kids throughout their sports journey. There, she told Queensland cricketers Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince and Beth Mooney: "I really wouldn't mind giving cricket a go."

"It was half a throwaway line, half-serious chat. The girls came back and told me," says Andy Richards. He was the coach of Queensland Fire and was putting together a team for a crucial event that year. "I'd tried it with a few different sportspeople before so I thought we would give it a go. She came in and we just had a coffee and then I said okay, we'll organise to have a hit and see what she looked like."

Barty, dressed in rented gear, confronted 150 deliveries at the hit."She'd never played the game, except for some backyard cricket. And during that first hit, she was probably already better than the bottom third of my squad. I asked her if she would like to come and train. She said no, not until she'd had another four or five hits. She didn't want to embarrass herself. Also, she didn't want to put anybody out." added Richards. However, eventually, The Aussie was able to earn her spot in the team.

Barty was a "Coach's dream"

"An extraordinarily talented woman. Her hand-eye coordination is as good as I've seen from a crossover sports point of view. Elite athletes like her have awareness about where their body needs to be, to execute their skill" in Richard's words.

Furthermore, a quick examination of Barty's gameplay reveals why she was capable of transferring her abilities from the court to the pitch. How the 5'5 all-courter goes toe-to-toe with larger and stronger opponents, staying on top of the rebound to 'flat smash' the forehand. With a double backhand, she descends and grabs the ball, often on the half-volley, and smashes it deep cross-court.

"She added so much more to our sport from a professional point of view. We were at that crossroads, sort of moving into full professionalism in women's cricket, and she was able to add a whole different perspective for the girls and us as well. I was devastated when she came up to me one day and said, 'Look, I think I want to get back into tennis,'" said Richards. "But deep down, I knew that was where she belonged."

Nevertheless, Cricket, according to Richards, provided Barty with a lifelong feeling of belonging and teammates. Also, the former coach of Barty knew that cricket's loss is Australia's gain.

According to Barty, her 18-month hiatus from tennis helped her become a "better person, both on and off the court." A more capable tennis player. She returned in 2016 and has since achieved a world No. 1 ranking and three Grand Slam titles. It was Barty's third major singles championship, including last year's Wimbledon victory and her 2019 French Open conquest. With this historical win, three-time grand slam champion Barty becomes the First Nations woman to win the tournament after Goolagong Cawley's four victories from 1974 to 1977.

Also, She joins O'Neil, Goolagong Cawley, Kerry Reid, and Margaret Court as the fifth Australian to win the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in the Open era.

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Ashleigh Barty Australian Open 2022