'Really incredible': Ash Barty's brilliant gesture for frontline workers

Ash Barty has shown her gratitude to the health care workers risking their own lives amid the virus crisis. Pic: Getty

Tennis champions Ashleigh Barty and Pat Rafter have thrilled frontline health workers at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital with a surprise visit to a COVID-19 ward.

Barty, whose sister Sara is a midwife and whose mother Josie also works in the medical field, came up with the initiative.

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Top-ranked woman Barty and Rafter, a former men's world No.1, were blown away after attending the Emergency and Infections Unit, where the most Queensland coronavirus cases have been treated.

"It was really incredible to come into one of the COVID wards and just to see how it all works and how it's sectioned off," Barty said.

"There were a lot of people and a lot of unsung heroes who are going unnoticed at the moment who are doing a lot of work to keep us safe, keep the community safe and to keep us tracking in the right direction.

"So it was really special for us to see that today."

Rafter acknowledged how "intense" it was to see the staff in full personal protective equipment.

"Being in that environment, it's pretty tricky. You can't thank these guys enough for what they're doing," he said, after the tennis aces crashed a video conference call of other medics to express their heartfelt thanks.

Proud Queenslanders Ash Barty and Pat Rafter had a hit of tennis at a Brisbane hospital after thanking the state's health care workers. Pic: AAP

Tennis stars have a hit with health care workers

Barty, the 2020 Young Australian of the Year, and Rafter, the 2002 Australian of the Year, even had a hit of tennis on the hospital roof with clinical nurse consultants Trish Hurst and Michelle Doidge, from the Infection Prevention and Monitoring Service.

The hospital's executive director David Rosengren said the visit from two of the country's most popular athletes was uplifting for everyone dealing with the pandemic.

"Being the largest hospital in Queensland we often have to bear the brunt of lots of the hard work and lots of the complexity," he said.

"The staff here work like slaves and are deeply devoted to what they're doing and every now and again it is so good to be able to just spend five minutes and look at the bright side of life and to get some recognition.

"We have plenty of Pat and Ash fans here and the smile on their faces around the hospital as been exceptional."