In a year when mental health is often the headline of sports, Ashleigh Barty in Australia deserves to be the number one female player in the world. Bertie knew he would be away from tennis for over a year in 2014 in search of a more normal presence (although she also started professional cricket).
In 2019, when she stumbled at Wimbledon and lost in the fourth round, she took weeks to get home and rejuvenate. And after leaving the tour for almost a year during the pandemic, she won four titles this year, including Wimbledon.
Bertie discussed tennis and his approach to life as he prepared for the US Open. The following interview has been edited and summarized.
Are you always on your way?
I grew up with the values from my mother and dad that you make the right decisions for the right reasons, and they are not dependent on tennis. In doing so, I’m a happy person, no matter what it means for tennis. Sure, I can’t please everyone, but that’s all I have to do.
Is it frustrating when people attack Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles and make decisions based on them? mental health?
I haven’t elaborated on those stories, but I hope they are making the right decisions for the right reasons, based on the headings. For Simone and Naomi, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks.
After reaching first place in 2019, he fell in Wimbledon, took a three-week break and fell in the second round of the next tournament. Did you feel the pressure as the new No. 1?
It was really exciting — this was what I was aiming for. It certainly didn’t put pressure, if anything, I had nothing to prove to anyone, so it removed it.
After Wimbledon, it was really important to go home and stock up. I arrived in the United States thinking I wouldn’t be going to play the best tennis in some of these tournaments. But I have reached a solid end of the year. [Barty reached the finals of the China Open and won the year-end WTA Finals.]
Was it easy to find a foothold right away this year?
I only take it every week as it comes. Each match is an opportunity to do as much as you can on that day. It doesn’t matter if it wins or loses. It’s about going there with the right attitude, regardless of the outcome.
As an athlete, you need to be able to separate rather than put your self-esteem on those wins and losses — it’s certainly the wrong way to decide if you have a successful career. It’s about how you follow it and how much you enjoy the journey.
Were you confident before Wimbledon or were you worried about a prolonged injury?
I always trust tennis. If I play well, I will be very difficult to beat. But in Wimbledon, we stood on the edge because my team and I didn’t know how our body would react. I woke up every morning to see if it was okay. Physically passing through the tournament was difficult, so I was able to relax and play the best tennis at the most important times.
The US Open proved your biggest challenge. You have never passed the fourth round. Is there a specific challenge to playing there for you?
I love playing in New York and I love the conditions. It’s not terrible to have a fourth round in a row for several years — being in the second week of the slam is where you want to be — and I lost to some quality opponents. We just keep missing. I just go there and try my best.