Ash Barty has been crowned the 2021 world champion of women’s tennis by the sport’s governing body, the latest of a host of accolades heaped on the Australian superstar after her dazzling year.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) bestowed their annual end-of-year honour on the 25-year-old Queenslander on Thursday, announcing that Barty had retained the title that she last won in 2019.
There was no award made in the pandemic-hit 2020 season but Barty has maintained her position at the top of the women’s game thanks to a triumphant global campaign that took in five titles, topped by her second grand slam singles triumph at Wimbledon.
Novak Djokovic has been crowned the equivalent ITF men’s world champion after winning the year’s first three slams – the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon – and only be deprived of the calendar grand slam in the US Open final by Daniil Medvedev.
Barty, who had already been named the Women’s Tennis Association’s player of the year, joins an illustrious list of multiple winners of the ITF women’s world championship award that has been running since 1978.
Steffi Graf has won it a record seven times, Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams (six), Chris Evert, Martina Hingis and Justine Henin (three) and Monica Seles (two).
“Being the ITF World Champion in 2021 is something I am very proud of,” Barty said.
“I feel fortunate to play the sport I love for a living, especially in a year that was challenging and unpredictable for so many.
“I want to thank my team and my family for everything they do and a huge thank you to tennis fans around the world for continuing to support us.”
The triumph on Wimbledon’s lawns was, of course, the highlight of the world No.1’s year but she also won on hard courts in Melbourne, Miami and Cincinnati and on clay at Stuttgart, demonstrating her all-court prowess.
Even if being eliminated early in the Olympic singles was a rare disappointment, Barty did also manage to win a bronze in Tokyo in the mixed doubles alongside John Peers.
The ITF honour won’t be the last gong she picks up, with Barty nailed on to crown her magical year on Friday night with an unprecedented fourth consecutive Newcombe Medal as Australia’s most outstanding player of the year.
Djokovic ended his own sensational year as the oldest-ever year-end world No.1, and he has now moved ahead of fellow great Pete Sampras by winning a record seventh ITF World Champion award.
Djokovic is now level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 major wins in a year when he overtook Federer for most weeks at world No.1 – 353 and counting – and also picked up a further two titles en route to a 55-7 win-loss record.
Djokovic said: “After such a rewarding year for me, my team, family and fans, it is a great honour to be named the ITF World Champion for the seventh time.”
Croatian duo Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic were named ITF men’s doubles world champions after winning nine titles this season, while Czech pair Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova won the women’s doubles award for a second time.