Ashleigh Barty has been named National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador by Tennis Australia in an effort by the sport's governing body in the country to get more Indigenous youth into tennis.
"I'm a very proud Indigenous woman and I think that for me taking on this role is something very close to my heart. I'm very excited," the World No.18 said in a media release.
“If we can get more kids playing tennis and more kids enjoying tennis across Australia within the Indigenous communities that would be amazing."
The announcement was made by Tennis Australia as Barty headed to the Northern Territory for an exclusive tour of the new Darwin International Tennis Center in Marrara, which will host the National Indigenous Tennis Carnival for the first time in September.
"This annual National Indigenous Tennis Carnival will be an amazing event, for not only tennis across Australia but especially Indigenous tennis," she continued. "To bring all of the kids together to give them an opportunity to showcase what they're capable of."
I’m very proud of my Indigenous heritage and to be named as a National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador. Giving back to my community is very important to me and I hope to inspire many more Indigenous kids to get active and enjoy their tennis 🖤💛❤️ pic.twitter.com/NBFFhMcmZD
— Ash Barty (@ashbar96) April 15, 2018
Tennis NT, which governs the sport in the Northern Territory, also organized a tennis clinic with Barty in conjunction with the announcement.
The four-time Grand Slam doubles finalist flew to the remote Wurrumiyanga community on Bathurst Island and conducted a tennis clinic at the local Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic School.
"Ash is an incredible ambassador for the sport and her community. We’re hoping her appointment as the National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador along with the inaugural National Indigenous Tennis Carnival will help us take tennis into more communities," said Tennis NT CEO Sam Gibson.
"Ultimately what we want to see is Indigenous youth from across the country really explore their passion for tennis and grow their love for it."
Gibson estimated that the Indigenous Tennis Program will introduce tennis to more than 1000 remote children throughout the NT each year, and said both the appointment of Barty and the carnival were important steps in providing Indigenous youth more opportunities to play tennis.