SHENZHEN, China - World No.1 Ashleigh Barty joins the WTA Insider Podcast to reflect on her incredible 2019 WTA campaign after finishing the season by winning her fourth title of the season at the 2019 Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen.
The 23-year-old, who began the year ranked No.15, enjoyed a breakout season that included her first major title at Roland Garros, her first Premier Mandatory title at the Miami Open, a title-run at the WTA Finals in her tournament debut, and after becoming the first Australian woman in 43 years to rise to World No.1 this summer, Barty is set to become the first Australian to hold the Year-End No.1 on Monday.
With her WTA season in the books, Barty sat down to reflect on the secret to her success and look ahead to an exciting three months at home in Australia, where she is set to lead her country in next week's Fed Cup final and then begin her 2020 campaign on home soil as the No.1 player in the world.
"I'm in a very unique situation, in a very unique position, that at the moment, at this moment in time, no other person on the planet is in my position," Barty said on the WTA Insider Podcast. "I think it's incredibly scary, but it's exciting. I've worked my whole life to try and get to this point to say what it feels like. Each day it brings new challenges. Each day it brings new, exciting things.
"For me, particularly over the next three or four months, it's going to be really exciting to be home in Australia. I feel like the summer in Australia in 2020 is gonna be like nothing I've ever experienced before. It's gonna be completely new to me."
Listen to Barty's full interview on the WTA Insider Podcast below:
WTA Insider: What's the overwhelming feeling and emotion right now?
Barty: To be honest, I feel like I've been running on adrenaline this week. I really have. I'm just really excited to be able to sit down in 10 days or so and just take a minute. Just take a minute to breathe, take a minute to reflect and actually kind of go back and have a bit of a look, because this is this year is a year that I never want to forget. It's a year that I never want to end.
It's been just the most remarkable journey and the most incredible period of my life. I think I'm going to really have a good time just relaxing and really going through some of the biggest moments that I've had.
WTA Insider: Do you want to relive the moments of this year or your entire three-year journey. I remember your first press conference in Brisbane in 2017, I asked you what would make you happy in this second career? You said "Success". It must be overwhelming to reflect on that journey from then to now.
Barty: Yeah, it's incredibly scary, if I'm being completely honest.
I think even though in 2017 when I instantly thought 'success', I knew that there was a lot that had to go on behind the scenes for that to happen, for that to even become a possibility. And I think that's been the most incredible thing, is my changing perspective to every facet of my life and every facet of my tennis career. I feel like every single part has improved tenfold this year. It really has.
Even some of the tough moments, some of the tough decisions, I think the beauty of the journey that I've been on over the last three years is I don't have one regret. I know that I've fully invested in my life and in my career.
Regardless of the titles and regardless of the accolades and the stats, to me, that's not actually what makes me happy anymore. It's about putting myself out there, trying to be the best version of myself that I can be. With that change of perspective, I know that's all that really matters.
WTA Insider: When you look back on this season and your improvements over the year, what has improved most exponentially for you as a person and a tennis player?
Barty: My mentality, for both. I think it's been a shift in perspective on my life outside the tennis court and in my personal life. I couldn't be happier. I know that I've got the love and the support of my family. Touch wood, if anything were to happen and I couldn't play tennis tomorrow, I would seriously have no regrets. I'd have no issues in the world just going back and being my normal myself that I am with them every single day.
And then professionally, I think as well, just the changing mentality. I think consistently being able to turn up in the big moments. There's probably only been one, maybe two matches this year where I've walked off the court disappointed in myself. That's been a massive change. Now that the highs aren't so high, the lows on so low, and I very much feel like I'm in control of more of my matches and my emotions.
WTA Insider: Your ability to be clutch has been on display this week in Shenzhen and over the season. You're playing the pressure points well, which may not have been the case 12 months ago. Where do you find that calmness? Why are you in more control now than before?
Barty: I think that confidence and that calmness comes from practice. Knowing that I've put the effort in, I've put the work in to try and get to those points and to just play.
Because no one point has any greater value than any other point. I think that's another thing that I've kind of tried to take on board a little bit more is that the first point of the match is no more important than the last one. They both share the same value and it's about trying to do the best you can in that given point, because you can't change the past, you can't control the future.
So it's about trying to stay present as often as possible. There are times where I or I haven't done that well and it's cost me matches. But there are certainly a lot of times this year where I've done that exceptionally well and have dug myself out of some really sticky situations in matches.
WTA Insider: The WTA being the most successful women's professional league in the world, and you're the World No.1 of the league. As you look ahead to 2020 and the leadership role you'll find yourself in, how much of it do you embrace and how much of it scares you?
Barty: It scares the hell out of me. It really does.
I'm in a very unique situation, in a very unique position, that at the moment, at this moment in time, no other person on the planet is in my position. I think it's incredibly scary, but it's exciting. I've worked my whole life to try and get to this point to say what it feels like. Each day it brings new challenges. Each day it brings new, exciting things.
For me, particularly over the next three or four months, it's going to be really exciting to be home in Australia. I feel like the summer in Australia in 2020 is gonna be like nothing I've ever experienced before. It's gonna be completely new to me.
I know that I'll do the work with my team. We'll do all the preparation and do all of the work to take confidence into the summer in Australia and to know whatever happens, happens. If it's a first round, if it's the final, if it's anything in between, it's not going to really change my perspective or my outlook of what the summer was like.
WTA Insider: Will your success in 2019 relax you or be a burden going into 2020? Obviously the expectations will go up, but you also know what you're capable of.
Barty: You can't hide the fact that the expectations are going to go up and there's gonna be more attention and more written about me, particularly at home. That's quite normal, I think.
But for me, all that is white noise. The only expectation I honestly have is that I give it a red hot crack. That's all the Aussie public, all my family and all my team can ask of me, is that I give it a go and if it works out great, if it doesn't the sun's still going to come up. We're still going to have another opportunity the following week to try and do something special.
So I think overall it's about the work and the accumulation and putting yourself out there time and time again, which in itself is bloody scary. It really is.
To be able to create this vulnerability and kind of put the wall down, let everyone in, and let them see what kind of I'm feeling and what it's like. It's going to be really, really hard.
It's going to be great. It's gonna be special. And there's gonna be probably 50,000 thousand emotions I can share in between those. But it's something that I'm already looking forward to.
WTA Insider: Tennis Australia has rolled out a campaign you're involved with called "Play for you". You're in the campaign saying "I play for me, you play for you." What does 'playing for me' mean to you?
Barty: It's an incredible campaign. Something very close to my heart is getting girls involved in sport. And I think especially now having a niece I can see her growing and developing and having so much interest in sport. I just love it. I'm absolutely just entrenched in her life and in trying to get her involved in sport.
And I think for me, it really hit home because when I made the decision to come back to tennis, I wanted to do it for myself. I wanted to make my own decisions, be accountable for the good and the bad, run the gauntlet a little bit, and give it a crack.
That's what it's about, trying to do the best for yourself and not worrying about all the white noise and all the external things that come with it, because it shouldn't change the way that you approach your life, your career, your sport, whatever it is. It's about doing it for yourself and trying to bring out the best in yourself.