The world would be a better place if there were more Ash Bartys in it.
Quite a few tennis players haven’t been shy in complaining about spending two weeks in quarantine ahead of next month’s Australian Open — doing nothing to eradicate a perception of some in the sport as entitled and elitist.
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But you could never accuse Barty of such a thing as she showed all the gratitude you’d expect from someone being allowed to do what they love in the midst of a deadly, global pandemic.
Granted, the Queenslander hasn’t had to endure the same quarantine conditions as many of her rivals, so it’s only natural she’d be in a better mood than some, but Barty was all class in her return to the court, even if it wasn’t the dream comeback she’d envisaged.
Romanian Simona Halep beat Barty 3-6 6-1 10-8 (in a super tiebreaker) at an exhibition match in Adelaide on Friday night, but rather than dwell on any concerns about her form leading into the year’s first grand slam, the world No. 1 couldn’t stop smiling.
Barty was just thrilled to be playing again after 11 months without a competitive match, having opted not to travel or compete overseas in 2020 because of COVID-19.
“It’s absolutely fantastic to be back, I genuinely missed it so much,” Barty said. “I have been getting a little bit impatient the last two or three months, getting ready to play.
“And I’m so excited to get started next week. It was the perfect preparation.
“Obviously, I have trained over the last few months but nothing can replicate what we just did.”
While some stars spent the past fortnight whingeing about being treated like every other traveller who comes to Australia, maybe they should have taken a leaf from Barty’s book and just said thankyou for being allowed to come Down Under and earn a living in the first place.
After the match Barty was laughing away like mad, appreciative she can strut her stuff against the best in the world again — in front of fans, too, which is something the likes of Halep aren’t used to these days.
And the 24-year-old isn’t going to threw her toys out of the cot if her best form doesn’t materialise right away, showing the kind of perspective some of her rivals would do well to emulate.
“A little bit of execution, of course, that we would like to get right,” Barty said of her performance. “But I just enjoyed it so much. I think that is the most important thing … I’m excited to get started.
“If it’s not good next week, it might be the week after.
“And if it’s not the next week after, I get another opportunity eventually.
“So just keep chipping away, trying to be the best that I can every day.
“But it’s bloody good to be back.”