Barty's welcome French Open distraction

Murray Wenzel
Ashleigh Barty sports star friends are a welcome distraction from the pressure of top 10 tennis

Ashleigh Barty's circle of friends is a hit list of humble Australian sporting stars and the world No.8 has no doubt they're helping ahead of a French Open tilt this week.

The 23-year-old will carry a career-high eighth seeding into Roland Garros when her tournament begins on either Monday or Tuesday against American Jessica Pegula.

It isn't all tennis though for Australia's top-ranked player.

While talking to media in Paris on Saturday, Barty was keeping an eye on her Richmond Tigers' AFL fortunes and still buzzing after close mate and world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore's perfect 10 wave on the way to the Bali Pro crown.

"It was unbelievable, did you see it ... it was next level," a wide-eyed Barty said of Gilmore's effort.

Barty's love for the Tigers - and friendship with premiership captain Trent Cotchin - is well documented.

The Australian Open quarter-finalist also enjoyed a brief but successful stint as a professional cricket player when she took a break from tennis in 2015.

Still close with many of the players, Barty will front up at Wimbledon in July, the same time the women's Ashes is being contested in England.

"I'm very lucky to come from Australia where we have such an amazing sporting history and sporting culture," she said.

"I've got an amazing group of friends around me from different sports.

"A few in particular are absolutely crushing it and Steph was an example of that this morning."

Barty has flourished since her 2016 return to tennis and presents in Paris as a genuine threat in an open field.

She said her top-10 status hadn't changed her on-court approach but the friendships she's made away from tennis had helped her better cope the grind.

"I'm lucky to rub shoulders with Steph in a relaxed environment and see the authentic and genuine person that she is," she said.

"They're good people to be around and my (coaching) team's no different.

"And it's nice to have different people to follow ... different stages of the week you can look forward to footy or the cricket World Cup or surfing, whatever it is."

Barty was stopped by Serena Williams in a tight three-setter in last year's French Open second round.

The pair could meet again in the fourth round this year while Naomi Osaka - top seed and winner of the last two majors - is a potential quarter-final opponent.

One of the form players of 2019, Barty almost blushed when she was asked what it was like to no longer be considered a surprise packet on tour.

"There are certainly times I've still surprised myself this year," she said.

"But then there are other times where I'm more than capable of matching it with the best.

"Will it happen this week? Who knows, it could."