Tennis 2023: Ash Barty to return to Australian Open after lovely Iga Swiatek selfie

Ash Barty won’t be at the Australian Open to play this season but she will be on hand to mentor the next generation at Melbourne Park.

Twelve month ago, Barty claimed the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, ending 44-years between an Aussies woman winning the home title, a streak dating back to Chris O’Neill in 1978.

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It’s been a huge year since as Barty retired from tennis and transitioned away from her on-court career.

In 2022, Barty married her long-time partner Garry Kissick, release children’s books, an autobiography and seemingly enjoyed life including several golf trips around the world.

But although she’s not back as a player, Barty will be back in the tennis fold after it was revealed she would mentor young Aussie Olivia Gadecki at the Australian Open and was pictured at the United Cup, snapping a picture with current World No. 1 Iga Swiatek.

It’s been viewed over 220,000 times on Twitter with over 4,400 likes and more than 16,000 likes on Instagram.

It’s been viewed over 220,000 times on Twitter with over 4,400 likes and more than 16,000 likes on Instagram.

Comments were dominated with calls for Barty to return, while former World No. 3 turned tennis commentator Pam Schriver wrote: “One plus one equals greatness!”

Swiatek took over the No. 1 mantle when Barty retired but made it her own, breaking all sorts of records, going on a 37-match streak — the longest this century – and among her tour-leading eight titles were her second and third grand slam championships at the French and US Opens.

A 68-9 record also helped her finish with the second-most year-end ranking points (11,085), behind only American legend Serena Williams’ 2013 total of 13,260. It was more than double the second ranked Ons Jabeur.

Speaking before the United Cup, Swiatek claimed Barty was a huge inspiration.

“I didn’t really think it’s possible for me,” Swiatek said about Barty’s retirement. “When she retired, I felt mixed emotions because I felt like she still has the best tennis out there. She really inspired me to work harder and her different game style made me realise that there is always room for improvement.

“At first I felt like I wasn’t sure if this is kind of my place to be. Ash, she seemed like a huge role model for everybody in terms of her behaviour on court but also off court.

“So I felt like she really set the bar pretty high. So, I (needed) to show it to people but also show it to myself that I’m in the right place.”

And while tennis fans like to speculate on what would have happened if the Aussie had continued to play, Barty on the other hand has been happy to be away from the court.

She admitted last year she wasn’t even watching the tennis.

“Since retiring I’ve probably watched as many matches as I did when I was playing, which was slim to none,” Barty said after Wimbledon.

“Occasionally we’ll have it on as background noise but it’s very seldom that I’ll sit down and watch a match from start to end with any interest.

“I hit enough tennis balls in my life. I don’t need to see others hitting them as well.”

Barty will also be working at the Australian Open with 20-year-old Queenslander Gadecki who missed last season’s tournament because she was unvaccinated.

Gadecki, who has received a wildcard to the tournament, was supported by Barty at the time and she will once again be in the youngster’s corner.

“I’ve been really fortunate to always be able to contact her if I have any questions or if I need advice, she’s always been there for me,” Gadecki told AAP at the United Cup in Sydney.

“The best part is she just treats me like a normal person and we can relate in that regard and off court is just as important as on court.”

Gadecki said Barty would help her deal with the expectation of being a young Aussie at the tournament.

Gadecki is currently World No. 202, having risen to a high of No. 156 last July before injuries saw her slip in the rankings.

Read related topics:Ash BartyMelbourne

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