Ash Barty claimed the WTA Finals title and the biggest cash prize in tennis history — a cheque for US$4.42 million.
Still taking it all in, Barty said she needs time to reflect on her phenomenal year after capturing the elite season-ending championship and the record winner’s purse that goes with it.
“It’s just been the most incredible season,” Barty said after outclassing defending champion Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-3 in Sunday night’s final.
“Give me a week at home with a few beers on the couch where I can kind of relive what has happened in 2019. It’s just been a crazy year, it really has.
“It feels like it’s been a year that just hasn’t stopped … at times it felt like a circus going around and around.
“To cap it off with a very, very special night tonight in Shenzhen is really cool.”
Barty is the first world No.1 to win the WTA Finals since Serena Williams five years ago and the first Australian since her idol Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.
Victory underlined a stunning season in which the 23-year-old also landed her maiden Grand Slam crown in Paris and became the first Australian since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002 to secure the year-end top ranking.
No other Australian woman has achieved the feat since rankings were introduced in 1975.
But she’s not done yet.
Barty is bound for Perth on Monday hoping to lead Australia to a first Fed Cup title since 1974 in next weekend’s final against France.
“Yeah, there’s one more very important week to cap off what would be the most perfect year,” Barty said.
“This Fed Cup final is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. I can’t wait to get to Perth in the next couple days and then start preparing for what will be the most perfect way to end a season – playing for your country.
“For myself, to play in front of my friends and family, representing Australia, wearing the green and gold, there’s absolutely nothing better.”
There was certainly no one better than Barty in Shenzhen.
While most of her rivals spent the week complaining of the notoriously slow purple court, Barty went quietly about her business, dropping serve just four times in her four wins over world No.2 Karolina Pliskova, world No.6 Petra Kvitova, world No.7 Belinda Bencic and the eighth-ranked Svitolina.
The Queenslander finished the regular season with a WTA-best 12 wins over top-10 opponents as well as a tour-leading four titles from six finals, her latest success coming indoors having already picked up trophies on clay, grass and hard courts in 2019.
Throw in an equal-tour-high 56 wins from 68 matches and Barty is nothing less than a worthy year-end world No.1.
Not to mention the guaranteed top seed for the Australian Open in January after not only joining Williams and Goolagong Cawley on the season-ending championships honour roll but other all-time greats Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Justine Henin and Martina Hingis.
“It’s going to be really nice to be able to sit down, reflect and then refresh and re-gear and get ready to go for a massive 2020,” Barty said.
“I mean, for us Australians, we’re extremely lucky to be able to start that month in Australia. It’s going to be a really, really special time in my life.”
Barty’s unprecedented pay day for a professional tennis player took her 2019 prize money haul to US$11.3 million, trebling her career earnings.
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