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January 29, 2022

Ashleigh Barty

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

A. BARTY/D. Collins

6-3, 7-6

CRAIG TILEY: I guess it was destiny. 1978, Chris O'Neil beat Betsy Nagelsen, who used to coach Danielle Collins, 6-3, 7-6. Same in 2022, you beat Danielle Collins 6-3, 7-6.

Congratulations, incredibly proud of you. You're a great champion, not just on the court but everything you do in life. You're a great example for everyone. We really appreciate everything you do. To your team, Gary, Nikki, Ben here, the rest having a good time, thank you, everyone.

Ash Barty, cheers.


ASHLEIGH BARTY: Cheers. Thanks, Craig.

THE MODERATOR: Australian Open 2022 champion, how do you feel?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it's absolutely incredible. I think as Aussies, we're exceptionally lucky to be a Grand Slam nation. To get to experience to play at home is really special, and to be here as a champion of the tournament is really exciting.


Q. Congratulations. When that last crosscourt winner happened and you yelled, can you explain or describe what that particular moment was really like.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it was a little bit surreal. I think I didn't quite know what to do or what to feel, and I think just being able to let out a little bit of emotion, which is a little bit unusual for me, and I think being able to celebrate with everyone who was there in the crowd, the energy was incredible tonight. I think being able to understand how much work my team and I have done behind the scenes and over the last few years, to get to this point to be able to have this opportunity was really special.

I think it just kind of all came out at once, and yeah, a really, really special moment.

Q. Congratulations. I just wanted to ask you about the moment you realized Evonne was going to be the one handing the trophy to you, just describe your reaction. Obviously you didn't think Evonne was going to be there, whether you had any thoughts about that before the match. I know you would have wanted her to be there.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, of course. I knew that she wasn't -- I thought she wasn't coming, and I'd spoken to her earlier in the week, and she was staying at home and not being able to travel down this year. So to have that surprise was amazing. I can't believe Craig kept it a secret.

It was really special just to be able to give her a hug. It's the first time I've seen her in 12 months. We had a few hugs for a few different reasons, and to be able to actually see her in the flesh and chat to her was incredible. To be able to experience that together on such a big occasion, on such a beautiful court, and in a tournament that means so much to both of us, I think it was really nice to have her there just as someone to lean on when I wasn't really sure what to do.

Yeah, she's an amazing human being, and I'm very, very lucky to be able to call her a friend. Very lucky to be able to give her a hug in some of the biggest moments in my life.

Q. You said I think earlier in the week, someone asked you about your slice backhand and you talked about how Jim Joyce and you worked on making you such a complete player. Now there's this lovely stat you have, titles, Grand Slam titles, on all the different surfaces. You joint this amazingly select group of active players who have done that. I wonder if that particular stat gives you extra satisfaction because of it representing that completeness.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, there's still work to be done, without a doubt. I feel very humble to be in such a select group. To be honest, I don't really feel like I belong with those champions of our sport. I'm still very much learning and trying to refine my craft and try and learn every single day and get better and better.

It's amazing to be able to have this experience and this opportunity on three different surfaces and be really consistent across the board. Ultimately that was one of the biggest challenges that Jim set out for me when I was young was to be a complete player and be really consistent across all surfaces and be able to play on all surfaces.

So to have a Grand Slam title on each surface is pretty amazing. I never probably thought it would ever happen to me. So very, very lucky and very humbled and privileged to be able to be a part of it.

Q. Congratulations. You had not faced a ton of adversity on the scoreboard, at least in this tournament. So how good did it feel to be able to climb back from 1-5 down in the second and was there a different sort of gear you had to unlock to come back battle mode for a minute there?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: No, I felt like all fortnight long I've done a pretty job of nullifying half chances from my opponents and being able to really serve well when I needed it most. I think tonight I probably didn't serve my best and against one of the best returners on the globe, it's hard to be able to be on the back foot all the time.

Once it was 1-5 down I just wanted to try and shift and be a little more aggressive, adjust a couple of things tactically just to get momentum if we went to a third. Tennis is a funny game with the scoring system and things can change so quickly it feels like at times.

So it was just important for me to try and stay in touch, and I knew that the crowd would love it if I could stay close and get involved. It was, yeah, it was incredible to be able to really, in a way, from 5-1 down turn nothing into something and be able to get some real momentum throughout that set.

Q. You obviously made a big statement to point out Casey Dellacqua. Could you explain to us which role she played after your first big break when you came back? And second, how you managed to enjoy life, to practice hard, care about your mental health and still compete and cope with the WTA Tour?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Well, I mean, Casey is my best mate. She was right there, and I knew she was watching the match. I just wanted to give her a hug. She was one of the first people that I could see and give a hug to. I think she's done so much for me as a person, and not just after big wins. She's been there right from the start. I love her to death. I think being able to share some of these moments with her is really special. She's been a massive part of my life on the tennis court and as a personal friend.

I think being able to have that balance and understand that I'm very lucky and fortunate to be able to do what I do, I get to play a sport that I love for a living, I get to compete, work hard, and I think I just see that as an opportunity. There are so many different things that I get to experience as a tennis player, and I'm very fortunate to do that.

Q. Well done. You've got some great people in your box who are always very, very composed. Who has the potential to break ranks and jump up and give a real shout at some stage and lose it? Anyone who has that potential?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: In the match?

Q. Everyone in your box, they are all so composed. Is there someone who is really holding it back, do you think?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I don't know. You'd have to ask them. I don't really look at them too much throughout a match. All the work we do is done before, all the planning is done before and then it's about going out there and try to execute and do the best I can. If I'm looking up to the box I'm only ever really looking at Tyz for reassurance more than anything.

But, yeah, I don't know. Everyone, we're all pretty reserved, our whole team is pretty chilled out. We just know that we get to enjoy the moment and do it together. So it's cool.

Q. So much history in tennis in this country. What does it mean to you to end the drought, if you want to call it that? What do you hope it does for tennis in this country that you have done that?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: As Australians, we're extremely lucky to have the tennis history and the rich history that we do, particularly here at the Australian Open. But across all Grand Slams, we've had champions that have stemmed back years and years and years and have really set the platform for us to come through and try and do what we do and try and create our own path.

I think there are a few that are closer to home for me, and obviously more of their stories I've been more invested in just because I know them more as a person. Those people that come to mind, Pat Rafter and Evonne, in the way that they handled themselves on the court, for me that was, there's just no one better. Recently you've had your Dylan, Sam, who are really able to just enjoy the experience and bring so many different people to tennis, bring so many different walks of life to this beautiful sport that we play.

I think I'm a very, very small part of that. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing myself, but to be a very small part of an amazing history in tennis as an Australian is really, really neat.

Q. When you walked back through the corridors, I think your mum was the first person to hug you and your dad was next. What were you feeling when you walked back to that room where everyone was waiting for you?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I honestly just thought how lucky am I that I've got so many people here that love me for me and got to experience this with me. Because I was gutted when mum and dad and some of my team couldn't be there in Paris and in London. I think to be able to have almost everyone here was really, really special, and to do it at home and to be able to do it with them experience it with them was really special.

Yeah, mum was always going to be the first one that I gave a hug to.

Q. How does winning an Australian Open title, the feeling of that, compare to winning a Wimbledon title and winning a French Open title? Are you more determined now to add the US Open to your trophy cabinet?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: They are all very different, all very different stages of my life.

I think to be able to have this feeling and experience this a few times over, I just understand how fortunate I am to be able to experience that, because not many people get to do that. I think it's just been an incredible journey over this past 20 years of hitting a tennis ball but particularly the last five or six years in this second phase of my career.

I think being able to surround myself with amazing people who have invested so much time and effort and love into my career, and for them to be able to support me and to be able to experience it with me is really cool. I think our drive and determination and passion has always been the same right from the start. I think finding what we love to do and being able to then go out and compete and try and break down some of the barriers and try and achieve new things is really exciting for us always.

Q. We all saw that photo of you when you were a kid, we all saw it on social media. If you had a word for that kid, knowing your journey now, what would that be?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Be patient, have fun, trust your gut every day of the week.

Q. You have been asked a lot about the pressure on you of trying to win this title. Now you've got that trophy sitting next to you. Were you really as cool about it as you seem? Trying to go for this trophy, has the kind of national expectation ever weighed on you?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I think the expectation was that I would always come out and give my best, and that's all I've ever done. I have been close before, but I think now that we've been able to achieve this, I think you guys don't need to talk about it anymore. You were the ones who added fuel to the fire, because for us it was just the same processes and the same enjoyment, regardless of where we're playing in the world, what round it is. That has no impact on how much I enjoy my tennis and go out there or how much I try and compete.

So I think being able to really simplify that and then just come out and enjoy it. I mean, this fortnight, seven times I got to walk out onto a beautiful court with incredible fans and try and do the best I can do, and that's all I could ask of myself.

Now to be able to have this part of my dream kind of achieved is amazing, and I think I have to really understand that that came from the processes that we put in with my team and the people that are around me, because without them, I wouldn't be half the person that I am.

Q. Danielle, in her press conference, mentioned some of the challenges the crowd gave her during the match. Some here in the media room think it's because of the behavior, some doubles Australian players probably gonna win the final in doubles. What's your view of that, trying to change the game and make it more for the masses and break some of those courtesy rules that the game has had for many years?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I think it's exciting that we have got an incredible full stadium for a final. It's incredible. The crowd, I mean, I'm playing here in Australia, at home. I think it's no secret that playing against an American you're going to have -- I'm going to have more support from a home crowd, that's quite normal. I expect the same thing when I'm playing in the U.S. and wherever you're playing around the world if you play someone from home that's usually how the cookie crumbles.

I think for me it's about going out there and doing my business, doing what I can do, and enjoying that experience with the crowd. I'm not trying to change anything. I'm not trying to break any rules or change anything. I'm just going out there and enjoying it with them.

Q. Congratulations, Ash. I just wanted to ask you about you always talk about being focused in your game, your own side of the court. I just wonder if you noticed that your opponent didn't sit down during a changeover, she hadn't apparently through the whole tournament, and she spoke about a low back pain, though she didn't give that as a reason of her performance today. I just wanted to know if you noticed any discomfort and if you noticed the fact that she was not sitting down?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, I mean, I noticed the fact that Danielle wasn't sitting down at change of ends, but, I mean, I have played against players before that have done that, so it was unusual in a sense that not everyone does it, but I noticed that she had done it throughout the tournament and in her match tonight.

I wasn't really focusing on her lots at all or at the change of ends. I was kind of in my own head. Yeah, I didn't notice anything.

Q. Congratulations. Just going back to the match a little bit, can you just talk through a little bit of the ebbs and flows of the match? The start, the forehand you hit to save breakpoint in the opening set seemed massive at the time, too, but it was such a tight match, so many half chances. How did you navigate it? In that context, can you talk a little bit about your match management skills? Because it seemed like I have seen other players in that second set get ahead of themselves and start thinking about the scoreboard, about a third set looming, about everything that's at stake. Seemed like you were able to stay really, really present.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, I mean, I think there were a lot of half chances in the match from both of us, and I think a lot of the time it was dominated by serve and then it was dominated by return when we had runs of looks at second serve. I think that was probably the key element in both of the times where we were able to get breaks was we had those service games with two, three, four second serves.

When you're playing someone like Danielle who is one of the best returners in the game, you just can't give her that many looks at serves because she is going to take the opportunity, and I think in the second set she was able to really get a run on and put me in places in the court where I didn't want to be. Then I had to make a change tactically to try and bring it back to my kind of flow a little bit, and being able to just take the game on and take a few more risks when I was down in that second set, then I think stemmed the momentum and kind of changed the flow of the match.

But all in all, across the entire match, I was just trying to, as regularly as possible, play my patterns and not let Danielle control the court from the center of the court and inside the baseline. Whenever I could push her off the baseline, I felt like I was able to spread and use my forehand a little bit better, find more space for my slice.

She did a great job on her service games in runs, as well. She'd make a lot of first serves, and for the most part I was having to chip returns and just trying to find a way to get into points. I think when I was able to be more aggressive, that was a change, and I was able to dominate with my forehand a bit more, particularly from being 5-1 down in the second set, I just found a lot more forehands and tried to work harder with my feet and take half chances and create forehands even if they probably weren't there, and I wasn't too concerned if I was going to miss them. It was more trying to change the look of the match than the outcome of the individual points.

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