Ashleigh Barty scooped her first ever Australian Open title on Saturday as she beat American Danielle Collins in straight sets.
However, it was only seven years ago that the world number one walked away from the sport with no hint that she’d ever come back.
After losing in the opening round of the 2014 US Open, Barty, then just 18 years old, announced she was taking “a break from professional tennis” and instead began pursuing a career in cricket.
“It was too much too quickly for me as I’ve been traveling from quite a young age,” she said at the time. “I wanted to experience life as a normal teenage girl and have some normal experiences.”
Speaking with The Courier-Mail, per 7News, the Australian’s former coach Jim Joyce revealed that it was a 2015 text from none other than tennis icon Serena Williams that inspired Barty to give tennis one more try.
“Ash was in a restaurant I think and Serena sent her a message saying, ‘You are too good a player to retire. You have to come back,’” Joyce said.