Kolkata: Ashleigh Barty, the world No.1 who emulated Evonne Goolagong Cawley by winning the Wimbledon women’s crown on Saturday, had a surprise package waiting among the stream of best wishes for her. International Cricket Council (ICC), the world governing body of cricket - Barty’s second love - put out an old video on Twitter which shows her batting in the nets for Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League team Brisbane Heat and also wished her on her Wimbledon win.
“Congrats to former WBBL player @ashbarty on becoming 2021 @Wimbledon champion!” ICC wrote on Twitter along with the video, which shows her perfecting a straight drive at the nets.
An exceptional sportswoman, Barty, a junior Wimbledon champion, took a break from her tennis career in 2014 and went on to play franchise cricket the next year. She played professional cricket for Brisbane Heat and played in the Women’s Big Bash League, Australia’s top T20 competiton for both men and women.
“It truly was an amazing period of my life,” Barty had said of her cricket career in a 2019 interview. ‘‘I met an amazing group of people who couldn’t care less whether I could hit a tennis ball or not.’’
“They accepted me and they got to know Ash Barty. They got to know me. I still have those relationships to this very day. I got an amazing amount of messages over the last couple of days from those cricket girls who were some of my best friends.
“The way they are accepting of someone new coming into their locker room, into their dressing room and into their sport was amazing. They are truly an incredible group of girls that I know I’ll have a relationship with for the rest of my life and a friendship with for the rest of my life,” she added.
Meanwhile, Evonne Goolagong - an indigenous Australian like Barty who won her first Wimbledon crown exactly 50 years back, wished Barty. “She made me proud from the first time I saw Ash. She must have been about 13,’’ she said.