Freshly crowned French Open champion Ashleigh Barty will showcase her Grand Slam credentials at RAC Arena in November, with Perth to be revealed today as host of the Fed Cup final.
The nation’s humble tennis hero — and world No.2 — will be joined by Hopman Cup fan favourite Daria Gavrilova and past US Open winner Samantha Stosur as team Australia contests its first Fed Cup decider since 1993.
The coup for tennis fans means leading female players will return to RAC Arena at least one more time after the demise of the Hopman Cup.
And young supporters are the biggest winners, with every adult paying for a two-day $20 bronze ticket permitted to bring along up to four children 14 years and under for free.
Australia will take on a French side to be drawn from Caroline Garcia, Pauline Parmentier, Kristina Mladen-ovic, Alize Cornet and Fiona Ferro on November 9 and 10.
WA-based Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik said Barty, who bookies have installed as third favourite for next month’s Wimbledon, had been knocking on the door of a major title for years.
“Ash’s natural talent is matched only by her work ethic and outstanding sportsmanship, and it’s wonderful to see her blazing a trail not just in women’s tennis, but in world sport,” Molik said.
“Women’s tennis is in an extremely powerful position in Australia at the minute and I’m so proud of every team member who has been a part of this two-year journey to reach the final.”
Barty beat Belarusians Victoria Aza-renka — a former world No.1 and two-time Australian Open winner — and Aryna Sabalenka to lead Australia to a Fed Cup semifinal win in Brisbane in April.
Over the past two years, team Australia has also dispatched Serbia, Ukraine, the Netherlands and the US.
“I have no doubt in my mind that we are capable of winning,” Molik said.
“We’ve had a sensational start to the year, but the job isn’t finished yet, and we are going to ensure that we give ourselves every chance here in Perth to win for Australia. I hope to see fans coming from all over the country to Perth to cheer the Aussies to victory.”
Australia has not won the Fed Cup since Evonne Goolagong was dominating the world in 1974 but Perth has proved a happy hunting ground, Australia beating Great Britain to the silverware at Royal Kings Park Tennis Club in 1971 — the last time the WA capital hosted the decider.
Tourism Minister Paul Papalia predicted West Australians would jump at the opportunity to watch Barty, Stosur and Gavrilova taking on France.
“It’s a great coup for the Fed Cup final to return to Perth after 48 years, particularly in the lead-up to the launch of the new ATP Cup in January 2020,” Mr Papalia said.
Premier Mark McGowan said bringing the event west was a win for tennis and for families.
“West Australians will have a chance to be part of this significant international sporting spectacle and with the free children’s tickets, it will make it more affordable and easier for families to attend,” he said.
Tickets go on sale to the public via Ticketek at 9am tomorrow.