Aussie World No.1 Ash Barty has announced her return to the WTA tour and will travel overseas for the first time since Covid-19 wreaked havoc on last year's schedule.
Barty remained in Australia and skipped the French Open and US Opens after the Covid-19 pandemic brought a halt to the WTA tour in March last year.
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The Aussie crashed out of the 2021 Australian Open in the Round of 16 after a three-set rollercoaster against Karolina Muchova.
Carrying an injury into the tournament, Barty was then knocked out of the Adelaide Open by Danielle Collins in her first game.
The leg injury prompted the World No.1 to withdraw from the Doha and Dubai tournaments.
But after more than a year away from overseas tournaments, Barty has announced she will travel to the US and compete in the Miami Open.
“You weigh up the risk for your reward, and what you’re willing to accept,” Barty said on Channel Nine.
“I feel like now we are in a comfortable position, knowing that the tour is doing the right things and we are going to be in a safe environment.”
She's ridden out the pandemic at home, but Ash Barty is packing her bags and preparing to leave her Ipswich bubble indefinitely for a return to the world tennis tour. @WallyLewis9 #9News pic.twitter.com/moUfgbRGLn
— 9News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) March 16, 2021
Barty could be gone for an extended period of time if she opts to then travel to Europe and compete in the clay court tournaments in the lead up to the French Open.
Unfortunately, Rafael Nadal stunned his fans by announcing his withdrawal from the upcoming Miami Open.
The 20-time grand slam champion has pulled out of the Masters 1000 event because of the back issue that has bothered him since before the Australian Open.
Barty joins illustrious company with record
Recently, Barty joined some rarified company atop the women's game after becoming the 10th longest serving World No.1 in WTA history.
Barty reached the World No.1 ranking, not long after her maiden Grand Slam title at the 2019 French Open, on the 24th June, 2019, and has maintained her run at the top of the women's game since.
The Australian was helped due to the player rankings being frozen and a 'best-of' system introduced after the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the sports world last year.
But her 66th week as World No.1 puts her in special company, including with current star Serena Williams and legends such as Stefani Graff and Martina Navratilova.
She sits behind, Graf (377 weeks), Navratilova (332), Williams (319), Chris Evert (260), Martina Hingis (209), Monica Seles (178), Justine Henin (170), Lindsay Davenport (98).
Next-in-sight is recently retired Caroline Wozniacki (71).
These are the only women to have held the No.1 spot longer since rankings were introduced in 1976.
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