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French Open: Barty reflects on incredible journey to first major semi-final - 'I've grown as a person and a player'

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 7 Jun 2019
  • Barty will make her top four debut after making first major semi-final at the French Open
  • Three years ago, Barty returned to the WTA rankings at No. 623 after a brief stint in professional cricket
  • Barty would rise to No. 2 if she can go all the way in Paris
Ashleigh Barty (PA Images)

A little over three years ago, Ashleigh Barty was playing professional cricket in the national women’s league in Australia. Now, she’s two wins away from a first Grand Slam title at the French Open.

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It’s been a remarkable and unique journey for Barty, who gave tennis away after the 2014 U.S. Open as she became disillusioned with the travel aspect of the sport and longed for the life of a normal teenager. Jumping at the opportunity to play a team sport, Barty accepted a contract with women’s Big Bash cricket team Brisbane Heat and competed in the 2015/16 league, helping her team to a 7-7 win-loss record for the season and hitting the second-highest score in her team on debut.

Ashleigh Barty (PA Images)
Ironically, Barty returned to the WTA rankings three years to the day she secured the biggest Grand Slam victory of her career as she conquered Madison Keys 6-3 7-5 to make her first major semi-final on Thursday. The Australian registered at No. 623 in the rankings on June 6, 2016 - and courtesy of her run in Paris, Barty will rise to at least No. 4 when the new rankings are released on Monday.

Barty will move up to No. 3 if she reaches the French Open final and No. 2 if she can win the title. If the latter happens, Barty will trail No. 1 Naomi Osaka by just 136 points heading into the grass season.

"I have grown as a person and obviously as a player, as well," Barty said when asked about her ‘second career’ in tennis. "But I have had some heartbreaking moments. I've had some amazing moments. But all in all, I have enjoyed every single minute. 
"I think that's been the biggest thing, that I haven't had one ounce of regret. I felt like when I came back, it was my decision, we did it my way, and, yeah, it's paying dividends."
  
Barty is now the only top 20 player left in a draw that ensures a brand new Grand Slam champion at Roland Garros, along with No. 26 Johanna Konta, No. 38 Marketa Vondrousova and No. 51 Amanda Anisimova.


Before the tournament, the foursome had a combined record of 3-12 at the French Open, but one of them will be walking away with a maiden major title - and Barty knows she has what it takes despite not achieving much success on clay prior to this year.

"Oh, it's incredible," Barty said. "I felt for myself and my team, we have approached this clay court season a little bit differently to others. Have really enjoyed it, embraced it. Have been playing some pretty good tennis.
"Ultimately I feel like when I'm able to play my game style and my kind of tennis, I can match it with everyone regardless what surface it's on."

Barty will meet 17-year-old sensation Anisimova in the semi-finals on Friday.

Amanda Anisimova (PA Images)
Anisimova, the first player born in the 2000s to make a Grand Slam semi-final, played the match of her life as she conquered defending champion Simona Halep in straight sets in the quarter-finals.

Anisimova, who won her maiden WTA title on the clay of Bogota earlier this season, is the youngest French Open semi-finalist since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006 and couldn’t quite believe what she accomplished against the defending champion.

“I don't think it will sink in, at least not for today,” Anisimova told reporters. “I mean, it's crazy. I really can't believe the result today. And getting the opportunity to play against Simona, that's amazing, but how it ended is even crazier to me.”
“I just played the best tennis of my life. I don't know how, and I don't know how I did it, but it just happened.”

Barty vs Anisimova begins live at 11.00am local time (10.00am BST) on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, while Konta vs Vondrousova starts simultaneously on Court Simonne-Mathieu. Click on the links for full match previews of both women’s semi-finals.


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French Open: Barty reflects on incredible journey to first major semi-final - "I've grown as a person and a player"

A little over three years ago, Ashleigh Barty was playing professional cricket in the national women’s league in Australia. Now, she’s two wins away from a first Grand Slam title at the French Open.

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