Ash Barty’s recent historic French Open triumph is a breath of fresh air — not only for Australian tennis, but also for Australian sport in general.
The 23-year-old’s joyous Queensland smile, dignity and dominance on the court is what Australian sport has been lacking for a long time.
Our arrogance within major international sports and events including cricket, swimming, (men’s) tennis and rugby union is embarrassing.
All it takes is this 1.65m superstar to show us how to win and perform with grace.
Australians are crossing their fingers Barty can achieve legendary status equal to fellow female greats such as Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Margaret Court .
What makes Barty’s win important is hopefully the media won’t care about Bernard Tomic or Nick Kyrgios until they win — which is highly unlikely.
Since the turn of the century, in fact since the 1970s, Australian tennis has not been celebrating as much as it once did.
Pat Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Cash, Sam Stosur, Dylan Alcott and the ‘Woodies’ are really the only people to experience success.
Unfortunately the only glimmer of hope we have tried to grasp onto, Tomic and Kyrgios, are just mirror images of Mark Philippoussis — wasted talent.
The two controversial figures should have learned by now once the media and fans stop caring about their lack of enthusiasm, then it’s over.
With Wimbledon starting in a few weeks, we are anticipating the repetitive headlines ‘Another dummy spit from Kyrgios’ or ‘Tomic the Tank’.
Most tennis fans only hope the media takes a sensible approach and promote the Australian players who actually care and want to reach the ultimate glory of being etched in immortality.
This recent tennis victory might just be the catalyst for women’s sport in Australia. It should have a huge impact on how we view women’s sport moving forward.
No longer should Barty be put behind Kyrgios and Tomic in the news headlines.
Even other male players such as Alex de Minaur have not earned the right yet to be put anywhere near the same pedestal as Barty. But his time will come.
Young girls and boys should use her as inspiration on how to play sport with dignity and respect.
Barty’s win also hurts the attention and attitude we show towards other Australian sport stars such as our cricketers.
The only way our ‘‘leaders’’ Steve Smith and David Warner can redeem themselves from ‘‘Sandpaper Gate’’ is to win either the World Cup or the Ashes this year.
For too long we have focused on the wrong things in Australian sport, many of which are off-field such as the ongoing Israel Folau freedom of speech saga and potential swimming gold medallists taking too many sleeping pills before the Olympics.
It feels like Barty has reminded Aussie professional sports stars they need to focus on what they are paid to do — win.
James Bennett is a journalist at The News.