Ashleigh Barty who is currently preparing for a shot at the Wimbledon title, opened up about the career-threatening mental health battle which saw her temporarily quit tennis.
The newly-crowned world number one has been seeded first for Friday’s draw, which makes her the first Australian woman to be seeded in the number one spot in 46 years.
On the back of her maiden Grand Slam title win at the French Open, Miss Ashleigh is the first Australian top seed at Wimbledon since Margaret Court in 1973.
In 2014, Barty took a step away from the sport to focus on her mental health.
She said she had been trying to cope with the pressure of being hyped as the sport’s next big thing after winning the Wimbledon junior crown at the little age of 15.
A depressed and homesick Barty bottled it after a first-round US Open defeat.
‘We went through ebbs and flows in that year in 2014,’ Barty said.
‘I will not be speaking about the details of how I felt and what I had to go through, but at my breaking point, I knew I had to stop, so when I made the decision, it was easy.
‘For me, it was more of an awareness. Once I had people I could talk about my struggles with it was quite easy for me to come out of it.’
The professional tennis player said she wouldn’t be here right now if she hadn’t taken out time to play professional cricket instead.
Eighteen-times major champion Chris Evert claimed it would be challenging for Barty to extend her 12-match winning streak to the 19 she needs to win tennis’ most historic prize.
No surprise, the 23-year-old admits to being unsure how she’ll cope the pressure of being favorite.
I don’t know; we’ll have to wait and see,’ Barty said.
‘I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but it’s such an open field if I’m honest.
‘It’s a whole new situation,’ the French Open champion said.
‘For me, there are so many potential new situations at Wimbledon. It’s essential I go out to prepare the best I can.’
William Kellogg is a veteran writer who’s covered the subject of the intersection of technology, health and mental wellness for nearly two decades.