After picking up her maiden Grand Slam title at the 2019 French Open, Australian tennis star Ashleigh Barty has recalled the "amazing period" of her life when she used to play cricket in the Women's Big Bash League.
The 23-year-old Australian became the first woman from her country in 46 years to clinch the French Open singles title when she swept aside Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-3 in the summit showdown of the Roland Garros on Saturday.
Notably, Barty once hung up her tennis racquets and switched to cricket when she signed up for Brisbane Heat franchise for the 2015 Women's Big Bash League (BBL). However, she made a return to professional tennis a year later, only to see her self picking up her maiden major title on Saturday.
Recalling her time as a cricketer, Barty-- who was constantly following the World Cup fixtures during her time at Roland Garros, said, "It truly was an amazing period of my life. I met an amazing group of people who couldn't care less whether I could hit a tennis ball or not."
Barty said that it was truly amazing to see those group of women cricketers accepting someone new like her into their dressing room.
"They accepted me, and they got to know Ash Barty. They got to know me. I still have those relationships to this very day. I got an amazing amount of messages over the last couple of days from those cricket girls who were some of my best friends," ESPNcricinfo quoted the Australian player as saying.
"The way they are accepting of someone new coming into their locker room, into their dressing room and into their sport was amazing. They are truly an incredible group of girls that I know I'll have a relationship with for the rest of my life and a friendship with for the rest of my life," she continued.
Earlier this year, Barty reached the final of the Sydney International before she made it to her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open two weeks later. She also lifted this year's Miami Open title in March following 7-6, 6-3 win over from Czech tennis player Karolina Pliskova.