Ash Barty to make Australian Open return as a mentor

Ash Barty to make Australian Open return as a mentor

by Tom Grant

Last updated

Last year, Ashleigh Barty wrote herself into Australian tennis folklore and fulfilled her lifelong dream as she hoisted up the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup and claimed the Australian Open title.

The girl from Down Under became the first home winner of the Grand Slam since 1978 when she overcame Danielle Collins and take home her third major title after Roland Garros in 2019 and Wimbledon in 2021.

The road ahead to her sporting dominance had been paved and talk was how many of these slams would she win - until she shocked the sporting world by hanging up her racket.

Now, the happily retired former World No.1 will make her return to Melbourne Park just 12 months after her historic triumph but this time in a mentoring capacity as she takes new young hope Olivia Gadecki under her wing.

Barty will mentor 20-year-old Gadecki - who is widely considered to be the new rising star of Aussie tennis - after she received a wildcard in to the event.

The player - currently ranked World No. 202 - has been highly impressive in her early career having beaten Sofia Kenin at last year’s Philip Island Trophy at Melbourne Park and she believes the guidance of Barty will be a big plus for her future hopes in the sport.

Gadecki revealed to Perthnow: "I’ve been really fortunate to always be able to contact her if I have any questions or if I need advice, she’s always been there for me.

“The best part is she just treats me like a normal person and we can relate in that regard and off court is just as important as on court. Just her application. She’s just really good at being consistent with everything she goes about.”

Gadecki started her season with a 6-2 6-2 defeat to Jessica Bouzas Maneiro in the United Cup but went on to explain she too will be fulfilling a dream - just like mentor Barty - just by competing in Melbourne.

“I’m fortunate enough to be given the opportunity of playing main-draw Australian Open, which has been a dream of mine from a very young age," she added.

"I know I can play at a top level but I’m just looking at all the little things I have to do well to get there.

“I’m just looking to enjoy the experience and hopefully get a couple of matches under my belt.”


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