BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Ash Barty’s father had a pretty good idea when his daughter had made the decision to return to tennis after nearly two years playing professional cricket.
“One day I came home and found about four boxes of new tennis balls at the front door,” Rob Barty told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Wednesday. “It was Ash deciding she was going back to play tennis and away she went.”
Barty’s comeback culminated Saturday with a French Open title, her first Grand Slam singles championship, after beating Marketa Vondrousová in straight sets.
After a first-round loss at the U.S. Open in 2014, Barty decided to step away from tennis. She had been a top junior player, who won the girls’ title at the All England Club, but the pressures and stress took their toll.
So she switched to cricket and played the Twenty20 version of the sport in Brisbane.
When she returned to tennis in 2016, her ranking was outside the top 600.
Rob Barty watched his daughter’s results on the tennis court improve rapidly.
“She sent me a text when she cracked the top 100 and said ‘Hey Dad, finally made it. I’m in the top 100’,”…