Ash Barty's Wimbledon win has solidified her hold on the title of world number one, extending her lead over Naomi Osaka to nearly 2300 points.
The Wimbledon win means something much more though, that Barty, who has spent 77 weeks as number one, might finally get some recognition for it.
The 25-year-old Australian chose not to play for much of the Covid-disrupted 2020 tour, instead opting to remain in Australia with family, training and entering amateur golf tournaments throughout the year.
When the tour shut down in March of 2020, the WTA announced a freeze on player ranking points until August of 2020. The freeze ensured that players who could not travel to tournaments throughout 2020 would not lose their ranking points earned the previous year. As a result, Barty, who missed most of the season, remained on top of the rankings despite other players competing in and winning tournaments.
Dreams do come true ✨ pic.twitter.com/q0RgY4rQmH
— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) July 10, 2021
After this year's Australian Open, where Barty lost to Czech Karolina Muchova in the Quarterfinals, the 25-year-old rejoined the tour in the United States at the Miami Open, where she was defending champion after her 2019 win.
Barty reclaimed the title, making her the first number one seed winner at the event since Serena Williams in 2015. Fresh off her win, Barty defended her title of world number one.
“I know all the work that I do with my team behind the scene. I know there has been a lot of talk about the ranking, but I didn’t play at all last year and I didn’t improve any of my points whatsoever." Barty said.
“Yes, I didn’t drop but I didn’t improve any. I didn’t play any at all. There were girls who had the chance to improve theirs, so I felt like I thoroughly deserve my spot at the top of the rankings."
Barty picked up another title at the Stuttgart Open as the clay swing got underway, however she was forced to retire at the French Open, the title she won in 2019, due to injury.
Coming into Wimbledon under an injury cloud and lacking grass court preparation, Barty was still the one to beat after other big name withdrawals. Naomi Osaka, world number two, skipped the tournament, while Williams, who has won Wimbledon six times, retired hurt in the first round.
To say that these absences led to Barty's title would be a cop out. The Australian has played inspiring tennis throughout 2021 and dropped just two sets during the tournament. As for her number one ranking, which she obtained in 2019 before the rankings freeze, Barty has shown she is well deserving of the title.
Fresh off her Wimbledon victory, Barty is Australia's best hope for gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Barty has, in a somewhat rare feat, managed to capture the support of most Australians, unlike her male counterparts. Regardless of her result in Tokyo, she will remain one of Australia's great modern athletes, now it is time for the world to celebrate that too.