Just hours after being crowned women’s world number 1, Ash Barty has been forced to pull out of the Eastbourne International due to an injury – less than a week before Wimbledon kicks off.
The 23-year-old sporting star wowed Aussies this week as she was ranked world number 1 after winning the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham in the UK, beating German tennis player Julia Goerges 6-3 7-5.
But she’s now had to take a break to ensure she can play in Wimbledon after a bone stress in her right arm – which she’s been managing since she was 16 years old – flared up again.
While she’s often able to keep playing when the old injury flares up, she told reporters that it’s recently “tipped over the edge” and now needs rest.
“It’s an injury I have managed since I was 16 and when I have a spike in load it comes up,” Barty told reporters, according to The Australian. “It is a bone stress injury I need to look after it, especially in the first few days (of it occurring). Its important to get on top of it.’’
She added: “It will be fine… I will manage it carefully over the next few days, to make sure I am ready to go next week.’’
It comes hours after she was praised for her incredibly humble acceptance speech after being crowned number 1, sharing her support for her friend and opponent.
According to Yahoo Sport, she told an emotional Goerges: “I couldn’t think of a better person to share the court with.”
She added: “You’re one of my best friends on tour and you’ve been there for me since I was a little ‘tacker’.
“She’s the most incredible human being with the most amazing team.”
Meanwhile, speaking about her own rise to success, Barty said she never could have imagined winning the final and reaching the crowning position – while paying a moving tribute to legendary player Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
The pair are now the only Australians to top the WTA rankings since they were introduced in 1973 – with Goolagong Cawley staying number 1 for a fortnight in 1976.
“It’s been a whirlwind three weeks for me. It’s been a whirlwind year for me but to follow in the footsteps of Evonne, even to be mentioned in the same sentence as her, is incredible,” she added.
“What she’s done for our sport for Australians all around the world, not just based in Australia, she’s put us on the map.
“What she’s done for Indigenous Australians as well, she’s just been remarkable.”
Fans applauded her humble words, with one writing on Twitter: “Great acceptance speech. Not only a Champion player but more importantly a Champion person,” while another added: “A beautiful, humble and warmth winners speech. @ashbar96 you are a legend as a person as well as a tennis player.”