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February 23, 2020

Ashleigh Barty

Doha, Qatar

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Being the world No. 1 do you have any sort of role models that have been -- there's been a Steffi Graf in the past, Martina, they have had a very sustained run at the spot. So do you think there's a pressure of the former world No. 1's hanging over you that you need to be world No. 1 for a sustained period every time and you need to keep that up.
And the second question is, you've been back after a break and you said it's very difficult to stay away from tennis. So world No. 1, winning tournaments, that's a bonus. What do you think about your comeback?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, oh, I think first and foremost there's no pressure for me to stay as No. 1. I think obviously all of the girls that are pushing me, challenging me, we're making each other better tennis players and I think that's the best thing is we all challenge each other every single day. All I'm trying to do is improve every single day and regardless of whether I stay at that No. 1 ranking or I don't, I try and do the right things every single day and it's been an incredible ride for me since I came back into the sport. Obviously I had a different phase during my journey and through my life of playing different sports and different things like that, but it's been amazing coming back into the sport. I've had a great three years almost now fully back on tour, so it's been fantastic.

Q. What has life been like for you after the Australian Open? How much of the down time did you need to kind of recover from what was a pretty high octane, high stress Aussie summer and how did you feel getting book back into action here?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: I feel good. I needed to have an extra few days off just to let my body settle. We had a couple little niggles going on after the Australian Open. I would have loved to have been able to play last week and this week -- I've never played either of these tournaments, so it's kind of a new thing for me -- but, yeah, it was nice to spend some time at home with my family. Obviously parts of my family were with me at the Australian Open and my other sister wasn't, so it was nice to catch up with my niece and nephew at home who had been watching and kind of enjoyed that month with me. But it was nice. And then to get into a bit of training angle then to come here and experience something new for the first time, it's rare that we kind of get that, we play the same tournaments and the same kind of calendar throughout the year, so it's nice to experience something new, something fresh and really exciting.

Q. How much time did you leave the rackets in the bag and when did you pick up training in earnest to get back into the swing of things?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: I think it was about 10 days of no racket and then, yeah, just because I needed to give myself those extra few days. And in a perfect world it probably would have been just under a week and then kind of having, would have been close to a full week leading up to Dubai, but I had to give myself that extra time just to make sure that it didn't derail the rest of my season. So sometimes you have to make those kind of decisions to make sure that in the long-term you are looking after yourself. So it was nice to have those kind of 10 days, but, yeah, I feel really good now, it's beautiful conditions here and I really like it.

Q. Something that's been in the news a lot recently, the coronavirus outbreak. I know a lot of events in and around China have been cancelled, I wanted to get your thoughts in terms of how have you personally been affected? Has travel to certain tournaments or travel in general a concern for you?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: I haven't traveled since kind of the outbreak. I've been in Australia and I know that the quarantine in Australia has been fantastic. It's obviously a challenging time for people all over the world, it's kind of affected more than we realize and I think everyone's having different quarantine with where they live and kind of what countries they're in.

But for me it's, it hasn't been an issue. The only travel I've had is from Australia to here in Doha. So I think it's, for me personally, it hasn't made too much of a difference but I know it's affected a lot of people all over the world and I think it will, I know it's affected other sports that are meant to be kind of competing in Asia at the moment. But, yeah, for me it hasn't had a massive affect and hopefully it doesn't, touch wood.

Q. Looking ahead the Tokyo Olympics, I know the organizers have said that the games are going to go ahead as scheduled, but do you feel like that the virus, the epidemic, even if it does gradually ease down, is going to dampen maybe the spirit of the games this year?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: In my opinion nothing can dampen the Olympic game spirit. I think for me personally I'm extremely excited for my first Olympics. For me representing your country is the best thing that you can do and at an Olympic level it's the pinnacle. I'm really excited and it's a week that I really, really want to prioritize this year and try and do the best that I can, not just to be playing at the Olympics but to really go there and win and to try and win a medal for myself and my country and I think that's a week of the year that we're really looking forward to and definitely prioritizing.

Q. You have great comeback to tennis. But when you think about your male colleague No. 1, Djokovic?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: Novak's incredible. I think obviously for him the, historically, the start of the year has been incredible in Australia. I think Australians see him having a little bit of that Aussie spirit, having won so many times down under. But I know that he's an incredible athlete, he's an incredible ambassador for our sport and, yeah, I mean he's a great person to kind of be involved in and kind of in a way kind of bringing our sport into the light as well and I think he's a really good ambassador.

Q. So do you think you can do something like him?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: Oh, I mean, I think I could pick a lot of people that I would love to be like, but I also love being myself. I love being unique, I love playing my brand of tennis and for me it's working, I try and develop it every single day, but obviously every single person is unique in their own way. And I think that's the beauty of tennis is that everyone can play that little bit differently and it works for everyone.

Q. Correct me if I'm wrong, I think it is your first time here?

Q. You arrived two days ago. Did you get to visit a little bit the city or the infrastructure that will be holding the next World Cup, like the stadiums or a tour here in Qatar?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: I haven't seen any of the World Cup facilities, no, but we did go through the town yesterday and rode on the tram, which I knew, which I know is a new and exciting part of this city. And I think what they have done with the infrastructure's incredible. But like I said, for me this is a new place to visit, a new experience, a new culture and, yeah, I'm loving it.

Q. With time and space to kind of reflect on the four weeks down under, kind of what do you take out of that, how do you think that you handled kind of the caldron of being an Aussie No. 1 in Australia and, yeah, what do you take out of that four weeks at home?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: I think I kind of haven't really thought about it, but then in a way, reflecting, I feel like I have. I felt obviously it was a tough start in Brisbane, but it was nice just to kind of get my feet wet again and get back into competition mode. And then to fight like I did in Adelaide and kind of scrap through is amazing. And then to win a title on home soil was very special. We only get to play in Australia for that month of the year, so it was really nice that I was able to make the most of that. Particularly I think with the history of the tournament in Adelaide, in the past, it's incredible. And to kind of put my name on that brand new trophy was unbelievable. It's something that's very close to my heart as well. And then to have a very, very successful Australian Open was exciting. Obviously it was disappointing not to have been there on the final Saturday, but a semi-final of a Slam doesn't happen every single week. So I think all-in-all though there was disappointment, there was positivity, but, yeah, it was fantastic month.

Q. There's a new major champion since we talked to you last. So what are your thoughts about what Sonya was able to do in Melbourne, obviously having to beat you in the semis and then just kind of her rise to, yeah, be the next new major champion on tour?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it's been an incredible 12 months for her. I think in particular she's gone from strength to strength and kind of progressed through with I think a little bit under the radar. I don't think a lot of people gave her the respect that she deserves. And in Melbourne she fought and scrapped her way through and played some really good tennis in crucial moments and you have to give credit where credit's due. She's now a major champion, no one can ever take that away from her, I think it's amazing.

Q. During the long break in your career did you think that you would ever pick up a racket again and then you've also played some cricket, so how different is it team sports and an individual sport?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it is different, I think every sport is different and obviously when I had my break I wasn't sure whether I would play tennis again or not. I didn't say that I never would, I didn't say that I definitely would. It was just, it kind of it is what it is, it was what it was. But, yeah, obviously cricket is a massive part of Australian culture, it's an incredible sport and I think there were bits and pieces that helped each other. I think my tennis helped my cricket and my cricket helped my tennis in a way, in a bizarre way. But, no, it was, it was experiences that I loved. I met new people, met a new kind of group and circle of friends and had all these new experiences that I definitely learned from.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.


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