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Ash Barty, Young Australian of the Year, is the face of Aussie sport we can all be proud of.

Ashleigh Barty is Australia’s greatest tennis hope this decade.

More importantly, the world number one is exactly the kind of sporting hero we can all be proud of, adding Young Australian of the Year to her growing list of accolades.

On Saturday, the 23-year-old tennis player from Queensland was named Young Australian of the Year for 2020, accepting the award from the Australian Open in Melbourne where she’s currently fighting to become our country’s first Open singles champion on home soil since 1978.

Check out this handy explainer on what it takes to be an Aussie sporting hero in the video below, post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia

Ever humble, Barty said she didn’t think she was deserving of the prestigious honour – she’s simply trying to be herself and do the best she can every single day.

“This is bizarre. It really is. For me, my family, my team, we’re just trying to do the best that we can every single day,” she said after finding out she had won from fellow tennis player and former world No.1 Pat Rafter, who was Australian of the Year in 2002.

“It’s about being humble and respectful, and giving it a crack – trying to be the best you can be, and that’s all you can ask of yourself.”

Barty, who is also Tennis Australia’s National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador, said she lives each day, on and off the court, by the values instilled in her by her parents and upbringing.

And despite being Australia’s highest-ranking tennis player, you may not know much about the 23-year-old Indigenous woman. That’s because unlike more controversial players, Ash Barty is quiet in her triumphs – of which there are many.

Here’s what you need to know about Ash Barty.

Who is Ash Barty?

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Ashy Barty, an Aussie sporting icon. Image: Mamamia.
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Ash Barty is the world number one female tennis player, and Australia’s highest-ranked tennis player.

Born in 1996, Barty grew up in Springfield, Queensland, with her parents Josie and Robert Barty and two older sisters, Sara and Ali. Her father is from the Ngarigo Indigenous people and her mother is of English descent.

According to Sydney Morning Heraldshe met her junior tennis coach Jim Joyce when she was five years old and when she was nine he was making her practice against 15-year-old boys. Joyce says she was winning so many matches in the junior competitions that she began to donate the trophies to struggling tennis clubs.

At the age of 15, Barty became the 2011 junior Wimbledon champion.

Ash Barty's tennis break.

Despite being the junior Wimbledon champion, at 17 years old Barty stepped away from playing professional tennis due to the overwhelming demand she felt and its impact on her mental state.

"I went from not being known anywhere in the world to winning junior Wimbledon and six months later playing the Australian Open," Barty has said about her juniors career. "I was a victim of my own success, really."

Barty says she felt depressed and knew stepping away from the game professionally was necessary for her mental state.

A true athlete, during her tennis hiatus Barty played in the Women's Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat.

When she returned in 2016, she said: “It was good for me and my mind. I feel like I’m back happy and healthier and playing some good tennis at the moment.’’

Ash Barty and becoming world number one.

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Ash Barty did huge things for women's sport this decade. Image: Getty.
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In June 2019, Barty became the world’s top-ranked female tennis player – the first Aussie to do so since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 and the first woman since the great Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

After taking out the 2019 French Open - the first Aussie to win at Roland Garros since Margaret Court 46 years ago in 1973 - Barty moved into the top spot by winning the Birmingham classic.

Still, the humble Queenslander said she has a long way to go to be classed in the same bracket as Australian tennis great and Barty's idol, Goolagong Cawley.

“I’m nowhere near her status. To be mentioned in the same sentence is incredible," she said at the time.

“[Goolagong Cawley], she’s an amazing human being and has set the tone for so many Australians and so many Indigenous Australians around our country and around the world.

“She is an amazing person. And what she has done in her career was incredible and what she continues to do off the court for us as a sport is amazing."

Ash Barty off the court.

A role Barty is most proud of off the court is the work she does to encourage more Indigenous youth to play tennis as Tennis Australia's National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador.

"I’m very proud of my Indigenous heritage and to be named as a National Indigenous Tennis Ambassador," she said.

"Giving back to my community is very important to me and I hope to inspire many more Indigenous kids to get active and enjoy their tennis."

And on Instagram, she is the kind of woman you would want your daughter or son to follow. She posts candid moments with her dogs, snaps with her boyfriend and photos from her tennis career.

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Pit stop for a puppachino ????????????

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Second week feels ????✨????

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Sunday arvo swings with the Gorgeous Gremlins ????????????

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What a year! Thank you 2018. Cheers, Alex ????

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I made a friend ???? #GarryforGetty ????

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But what continues to be most impressive about Barty, and the reason why Aussies and people around the world love her, is her humble, hardworking attitude.

Speaking to Mamamia in December 2019, she said, "Being in the number one position is an honour but it doesn’t change the way I go about my preparation. The way I live my life hasn’t changed."

"The advice my parents gave me is to be a good person first and foremost – that’s what I still focus on today."

Feature image: Getty.

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