‘Incredible experience’: World No.1 Ash Barty ticks off lifelong goal

Marc McGowanNCA NewsWire
Ash Barty, with the Australian Open’s women’s trophy she won in January, visited Uluru last week Scott Barbour Tennis Australia
Camera IconAsh Barty, with the Australian Open’s women’s trophy she won in January, visited Uluru last week Scott Barbour Tennis Australia Credit: Supplied

Australian Open champion Ash Barty will return to the tour at Indian Wells next week but spent recent days learning more about her Indigenous roots.

The world No.1, a proud Ngarigo woman, visited Uluru and Alice Springs in her role as Tennis Australia’s First Nations ambassador.

National Parks representatives educated Barty about the sacred sites and she connected with members of the Muṯitjulu School and community from Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara country in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Barty hit with students from various schools as part of the Racquets and Red Dust program on a Hot Shots court, with the iconic Uluru serving as a spectacular backdrop for one of the sessions.

“It’s really hard to put into words, just because it’s a feeling,” Barty said.

“When you actually go to Uluru for the first time like I did; it was just an incredible experience for me to understand how much of a spiritual connection Uluru has for so many communities.

LISMORE, AUSTRALIA - NewsWire Photos FEBRUARY 28, 2022: An aerial image of Lismore in northern NSW shows extensive flooding as the region experiences the worst floods in a century. Picture: NCA NewsWire
Camera IconAsh Barty was in Central Australia last week in her role as Tennis Australia’s First Nations ambassador. Scott Barbour, Tennis Australia Credit: Supplied

“But also as a child, as an Aboriginal girl growing up, it’s the heartbeat of our nation … being able to experience that first-hand is something I always wanted to do.”

Racquets and Red Dust, run by Tennis NT, aims to create sustainable tennis pathways for First Nations people to experience and try tennis, with a priority placed on positive health, education and social outcomes.

Tennis NT’s Indigenous programs lead Anzac Leidig and inclusion and diversity manager Beth Caird travelled thousands of kilometres in the past 18 months to visit more than 20 communities and 1500 First Nations people.

The National Indigenous Tennis Carnival will be held in Darwin in August.

Barty is set to join Belgian great Justine Henin in equal-seventh place for the total number of weeks (117) spent at No.1 in the WTA rankings.

She is also only three weeks from matching 18-time grand slam singles champion Chris Evert for the fourth-longest streak of consecutive weeks at the top.

Originally published as ‘Incredible experience’: World No.1 Ash Barty ticks off lifelong goal

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