Australian has never let tennis rule her life and is as happy watching AFL at home as she is on court, but she will be back
Few sports have underlined their unimportance during the pandemic quite like tennis did in early October. As Roland Garros edged deeper into its first week, the top seed and tournament favourite , Simona Halep, was soaring. She ground through points, pumped her fist to the skies and demolished Amanda Anisimova to reach the fourth round. At that exact same moment 10,300 miles away in Queensland, Australia, the world No 1 and defending champion, Ashleigh Barty, was also on television, also pumping her fist. But in her playing hand was a cool pint of beer, not a tennis racket.
The last time Barty played competitively was at the Qatar Total Open in February, eight months ago. She decided initially to remain at home because of travel concerns stemming from Covid-19 but, as Australia grappled with the pandemic, the closed state borders meant she was unable to train with her coach, Craig Tyzzer. She chose not to defend her Paris title.
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