MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Ash Barty was named Young Australian of the Year on Saturday in recognition of her rise to number one in the world and Grand Slam triumph at last year’s French Open.
Barty was her country’s first number one women’s tennis player since her fellow indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976 when she first reached the top spot in June last year.
“Ash Barty is the world’s number one tennis player, a champion athlete and an extraordinary young woman doing our nation proud,” said Danielle Roche, who chaired the National Australia Day Council.
“Her achievements are inspiring young Australians to follow their dreams.”
Barty is in Melbourne for the Australian Open and will play American Alison Riske on Sunday for a place in the quarter-finals as she continues her quest to give her country a first homegrown champion at the tournament since 1978.
The award, handed out on the eve of the Australia Day national holiday, was also won by Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 – the year after he won his second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; editing by Mark Potter