Ash Barty has etched her name alongside some of the greatest names in tennis history after joining an exclusive group of players to be crowned World No.1 for a third straight year.
Australia's Wimbledon champion hasn't competed for more than two months but such has been the excellence of her globetrotting five-trophy campaign in 2021 that no rival came close to catching her as the world's best player this year.
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The 25-year-old has at times faced accusations that she didn't deserve to be World No.1 after sitting out the 2020 season in Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic when rankings were frozen.
However, the Aussie has provided an emphatic response to anyone who may have questioned her status as the best female player in the world, courtesy of a dominant 2021.
Barty who started the year by winning the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne, went on to successfully defend her Miami title before going to Europe to take the Stuttgart Grand Prix on her 25th birthday weekend - complete with a new Porsche as a prize.
Though injury cost her the chance to successfully defend her French Open title, she then lifted her dream title at Wimbledon, won a mixed doubles bronze at the Olympics and the Cincinnati Open in the US.
Her shock exit to Shelby Rogers at the US Open was her last match of the season as she opted out of the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, Mexico - a title which was annexed on Wednesday by Garbine Muguruza - and went home for some rest and relaxation while also preparing for her assault on the Australian Open title.
Ash Barty joins elite group of legends
Having also posted a runner-up finish at the Madrid Open, Barty ends the year with a remarkable 42-8 record in 2021 and has now enjoyed 102 weeks as No.1 in total.
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) officially confirmed on Thursday that the Queenslander had earned the prized accolade of year-ending No.1 for a third straight year.
Barty's achievement puts her in elite company, with the only other female players to have achieved the feat being a quartet of all-time greats - Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and Chris Evert.
Meanwhile, Katerina Siniakova has ended up as the season-ending No.1 doubles player, having enjoyed another brilliant season with her Czech compatriot Barbora Krejcikova.
The duo, who won the French Open together and the season-ending WTA Finals title, first achieved the No.1 ranking together three years ago.
"Ashleigh and Katerina have enjoyed incredible seasons and I am delighted to see them earn the WTA year-end No.1 Rankings," said Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO.
"The WTA Tour this year has involved over 50 events in nearly 30 countries, and to finish the season in the No.1 position is an incredible achievement and highly deserved following their hard-work, passion and dedication to the game."
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