By Martyn Herman
(Reuters) – Newly-crowned French Open champion Ashleigh Barty is looking forward to a fresh start as she gets ready to begin her build-up to Wimbledon on Birmingham’s grasscourts next week.
Against most people’s predictions the 23-year-old Australian notched up her first Grand Slam title on Parisian clay rather than the lawns to which her all-court game is most suited.
All eyes will now be on the world number two as she attempts to do something only six women have ever achieved — win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back.
“In all honesty this is a fresh start, a clean slate and a new season, jumping on the grass,” Barty told reporters on Friday at the Edgbaston club which again has attracted a high-class field ahead of next month’s Wimbledon.
“I’m excited to be here in Birmingham. This is a time of year that I love playing tennis. It’s one of the best times of the year. The bonus is I’ve been playing a lot of tennis and hitting a lot of balls. Now it’s about adjusting to the surface.
“But I find it an easy adjustment to make. I feel fresh; I feel good.”
Barty, a former junior Wimbledon champion who quit tennis in 2014 to play first-class cricket, said she was still enjoying the glow of her achievement in Paris where she beat Czech youngster Marketa Vondrousova to become the first Australian woman for 46 years to win the Roland Garros title.
A sports fanatic, Barty has been unwinding by watching some of the cricket World Cup and hitting golf balls.
“Now we’re back to work here and time to start on the grass,” the Queenslander said. “It’s a unique situation and it’s an incredible situation.
“It’s about enjoying it. I may never get the opportunity again. I’m going to continue to try and work as hard as I can to put myself in that position again but it’s been incredible.”
Despite finding herself in demand, Barty is keeping a lid on expectations in Birmingham where she was runner-up in 2017.
“I’m obviously drawing on some of the experiences I’ve had over the past three weeks but I also know that it doesn’t guarantee success,” she said.
“It’s a clean start, it’s a fresh slate here. I’m just looking forward to trying to get as many matches as I can over the next few weeks.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)