A devastated Ashleigh Barty will use the coming weeks to recover and reflect on a massive year that culminated in a heartbreaking Fed Cup final defeat.
Australia's bid to snap a 45-year title drought fell cruelly short, with France securing a 3-2 win in the best-of-five rubbers final in Perth.
'RUTHLESS AND INSPIRING': Ash Barty dominates Fed Cup final
Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia were too good for Barty and Samantha Stosur in Sunday's doubles decider, cruising to a 6-4 6-3 victory to secure France a third Fed Cup crown.
French No.1 Mladenovic earlier stunned Barty 2-6 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in an epic two-and-a-half hour singles battle at RAC Arena.
Barty was visibly distraught in the aftermath of Australia's ninth straight Fed Cup final loss, the most recent of which had come in 1993.
France secured its first Fed Cup title since 2003.
But the Queenslander put on a brave face when she later fronted the media, saying she would take the time to appreciate a huge 2019 in which she won a maiden grand slam title at Roland-Garros and scaled the summit of women's tennis.
"It's going to be obviously a tough one," Barty said.
"This is something that all of us have been looking forward to for six months and I think now it's about resting, recovery and reflecting on the year that's been.
"For me, but I think for all of us in a Fed Cup-specific point of view, the journey that we've been on is just simply remarkable in the last two years.
"Even though it's bloody tough now, in a couple of days' time I think we'll be alright."
Barty, who was brought to tears following the loss, had some encouraging words for her crestfallen teammates following the defeat.
“You can see how much it means to all of us. It is bitterly disappointing sitting here, not the result we were after,” she said.
“It is about taking some perspective, this team, this group of girls, personally I wouldn’t want to be sitting here with anyone else.”
Stosur to battle on
It was a tough pill to swallow for Barty's doubles partner Stosur, having come closer than ever before in her 16-year Fed Cup career to the ultimate prize.
The 35-year-old was overlooked for the singles rubbers in Perth but insisted she had no plans to step aside from Fed Cup tennis.
"I'm sticking around for a little while yet," Stosur said.
"This is obviously a very hard moment but this is a fantastic team to be a part of and all of these four girls are the future of Fed Cup.
"I won't be around for 16 more years but these girls may well be so we've got the future in good hands."