Ashleigh Barty said it was in “another realm” to become only the second Australian woman to top the world rankings when she won the Birmingham WTA title on Sunday, beating Julia Goerges 6-3, 7-5. The 23-year-old French Open champion emulates Yvonne Goolagong Cawley — like her an indigenous Australian — who held it for a fortnight in 1976. Barty — the first Australian to win the French Open since Margaret Court in 1973 — displaces Japan’s Naomi Osaka as women’s world number one. Even more extraordinarily, it comes less than five years since she took time out from tennis to play cricket in 2014. Nevertheless, she said it had been a childhood dream to be tennis number one, even though this year her and her team had only targeted the top 10.
“I mean you always dream of it as a little kid, but for it to become a reality is incredible, it really is,” said Barty after receiving the trophy in a tournament she had not dropped a set in. “It’s not something that was really in my realm. “We started from scratch without a ranking and now to be where we are, not only for me, is a massive, massive achievement for them.” Barty said it was an honour to follow in Goolagong Cawley’s footsteps.