Aussie Barty announces tennis return


Australian youngster Ashleigh Barty has ended her brief stint in cricket, opting to make a tennis comeback after a 17-month absence from the sport.

After surprisingly turning her back on tennis following the 2014 US Open, having been dubbed the next big thing in Australia, Barty spent the 2015-16 season playing professional cricket for Brisbane Heat in the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL).

However, the 19-year-old - a junior Wimbledon champion at the age of 15 - has decided to give tennis another go, starting at a $25,000 ITF Challenger tournament in Perth this week, with Barty prepared to work her way up from the ground.

"I love the sport of tennis, but I sort of got a little bit away from what I really wanted to do. It became robotic for me and that's not what I wanted. It's such an amazing sport and I just really wanted to enjoy it and I lost that enjoyment and that passion," Barty told the WTA's official website.

"I think deep down I knew if I kept trying to drive on through it, it would drive me away completely. So it was the right time to step away and just refresh.

"I had done it previously, in smaller stints. A few weeks here or there. But this time I knew I needed a little more time and didn't put a time limit on it. It just so happens to be that 16, 17 months later, I'm refreshed and ready to go again."

Barty, who reached doubles finals at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open in 2013, added: "I'm prepared to commit myself fully to getting back into tennis. That's the only way to do it, and that's why I'm taking it slowly in the beginning.

"There's no point in jumping back on tour and realizing six months later that this is not what I want. This gives me the opportunity to work my way into it.

"Second time around you really do learn a lot from the first time and already I'm able to sit down and take a different perspective."