Ash Barty appearance lights up Australian Open as tennis fans all say the same thing

The Aussie tennis star won her home grand slam in 2022 before announcing her retirement just weeks later.

Ash Barty, pictured here bringing out the Daphne Ackhurst Memorial Cup at the Australian Open.
Ash Barty brought out the Daphne Ackhurst Memorial Cup on the opening night of the Australian Open. Image: Getty

Ash Barty was back at the Australian Open on Sunday night, and tennis fans couldn't help but notice how fit she looks. The 27-year-old won the Australian Open in 2022 before announcing her shock retirement just weeks later.

She was back on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night, bringing out the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup - the trophy that the women's champion wins every year at the Australian Open. Barty walked out alongside American great Andre Agassi, who was holding the men's trophy - the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

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Barty and Agassi took part in a small ceremony on centre court before Novak Djokovic kicked off his campaign with a hard-fought 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 win over Croatian teen Dino Prižmić. Defending women's champ Aryna Sabalenka then blitzed Ella Seidel 6-0 6-1.

Ash Barty and Andre Agassi, pictured here at the Australian Open.
Ash Barty and Andre Agassi at the Australian Open. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

Barty received a raucous ovation from the crowd, with fans delighted to see the three-time grand slam champion back on court two years after her retirement. And social media users couldn't help but notice how Barty looked like she was still in top shape and ready to win back her crown.

"Ash Barty still looks like she can win it," one person wrote. Another commented: "Ash can probably still win it", while a third said: "Both look like they’re ready to compete."

Fresh hope that Ash Barty will make comeback to tennis

Barty and husband Garry Kissick welcomed baby boy Hayden in September last year. Ash and Hayden made a rare appearance at the Brisbane International late in December.

While Barty has always insisted she won't be making a comeback to professional tennis, fans and commentators are holding out hope. Aussie great John Alexander said earlier this month: "These days it’s almost like you’ve got to sign a contract to say I’m going to retire and never play again.

"I think you should be able to change your mind and maybe play the odd event still and if your form picks up have another go. I’m still hopeful Ash Barty is going to make another comeback. She’s having a sabbatical but two of your greatest women players - Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong - came back and played beautifully after having babies.

“It’s a different time now but she made that announcement for the sake of giving herself peace and quiet and relief from the press and the constant scrutiny, and it’s worked very well. Don’t be surprised to see her come back. The story of Naomi Osaka is the interesting one to see how she’s going to play coming back.”

Ash Barty, pictured here with baby boy Hayden at the Brisbane International.
Ash Barty with baby boy Hayden at the Brisbane International. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Osaka is playing her first grand slam tournament since giving birth to baby girl Shai. Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Victoria Azarenka are among a number of other players who are competing after having kids.

"It's amazing how quickly it's all gone, how much my life has changed but how natural it all feels," Barty said in a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. "It's hard – the hardest thing I've ever done – but it's incredible too.

"An amazing thing. And it's probably helped me appreciate my own mother, and my two sisters as well, in how they're raising their own children."

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