Newly engaged Ashleigh Barty reflects on "challenging" 2021 season, says she is "proud" to have held on to No. 1 ranking

Ashleigh Barty ended her thrid straight season as world no. 1.
Ashleigh Barty ended her thrid straight season as world no. 1.

Ashleigh Barty took to social media on Tuesday to announce her engagement to partner Garry Kissick. The World No. 1 posted a photograph on her official Instagram with Kissick, a golfer by profession, captioning it: "Future Husband".

Barty, who opted to end her season following the US Open, has been spending time with her family back home in Australia. The Aussie enjoyed one of her most successful seasons on tour in 2021. Not only did she lead the field with five titles, including a second Grand Slam at Wimbledon, but she also ended the season as No. 1 for the third time.

In a recent conversation with CodeSports, Barty reflected on her 2021 campaign. The Aussie started out by expressing pride in having held on to the World No. 1 ranking, describing it as an "achievement to celebrate."

“Holding the No 1 ranking again to finish 2021 is something I am incredibly proud of after such a challenging and unusual season,” Barty said. "To have spent so much time on the road, to have asked the people I love and admire to support me and make sacrifices, and for us to prevail is an achievement to celebrate."
Barty at the 2021 Miami Open.
Barty at the 2021 Miami Open.

Barty also addressed the issue of a certain section of fans not viewing her as the rightful No. 1. The Aussie, who held on to the top spot through most of 2020 because of the COVID-19 rankings freeze, said she felt "a little rattled" by the subject.

The 25-year-old said she wanted to "make a statement" and prove her naysayers wrong, which she was able to do with her title defense in Miami.

"When we arrived in Miami in late March, I felt people were questioning whether I was the rightful No 1 given Naomi Osaka had won a couple of Grand Slams in succession," Barty said, “It was probably the first time I felt a little rattled and I really wanted to make a statement on the court."
"Getting through that tournament – and playing so well at the end of it to defend my crown from 2019 – felt like a pivotal moment," she continued. "It was then that I realised I truly wanted to be the No 1. It was not about the accolades."

"I’ve had a good break and feel refreshed" - Ashleigh Barty ahead of 2022 season

Barty at the 2019 Australian Open.
Barty at the 2019 Australian Open.

Ashleigh Barty also briefly spoke about her plans for the pre-season, saying she was feeling "refreshed" after her near-three-month-long break.

The Aussie said she would enjoy "igniting" her competitive spirit during pre-season, before expressing her excitement for the 2022 Australian Open.

"For me, the pain starts again now," Barty said. "I’ve had a good break and feel refreshed. On Monday, I enter what we call the hurt locker. The pre-season is never easy and I am going to hate the next few weeks."
"But, at the same time, I also love it as it ignites my competitive instinct. I want to get better and better," she added. "I know that I will be feeling on top of the world at the end of it and raring to go for the Australian summer. Bring it on."

Edited by Arvind Sriram
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