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Ashleigh Barty health: Tennis World No 1 on being ‘aware of mental health’ after battle

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At the tender age of 15, the star had become the 2011 Wimbledon juniors champion. With the pressure mounting and all eyes on her as the next tennis prodigy, Barty took the decision to step away from the court as she reached breaking point. In 2014, the star then pursued a career in cricket instad. Returning to tennis in 2016 and climbing through the ranks once again, it is no surprise that the star is pegged as favourite for a Grand Slam win. Yet the star is still conscious of the plight she had to go through to get where she is now.

Finding herself depressed and homesick, Barty quit the sport after a first-round US Open defeat.

“We went through ebbs and flows in that year in 2014,” Barty said in 2019, reflecting on her early career.

“I’m not going to go into details of how I felt and what I had to go through, but there was a point when I think I knew I had to stop and, when I made the decision, it was easy.

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“Everyone is different, everyone is unique. I can’t sit here and tell people how they should figure out their way through their life. It’s their decision.

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“For me, it was just being aware of my mental health. Having a discussion with people was the best thing that came out of it.”

The star has never regretted her decision to temporarily leave the sport, explaining that she would not be where she is now without the break.

Finishing her 2019 season as World No.1, sitting out the entirety of the 2020 season due to Covid, to then returning to win at Wimbledon in 2021, the star is not only dominating her sport, but her journey represents an important message.

In a recent interview, former 16-time Grand Slam doubles champion Todd Woodbridge praised Ashleigh Barty for spearheading a trend in women’s tennis about prioritising mental health.

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Mental health is something that affects us all. The Mental Health Foundation explains that mental health problems are one of the main causes of overall disease burden worldwide.

Mind – a leading mental health charity – explains that depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time and affects your everyday life.

In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make you feel suicidal.

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In the beginning months of the year, individuals might suffer from a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern.

Typical symptoms of SAD include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Not wanting to see people
  • Sleep problems, such as sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty waking up, or difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty or hopeless
  • Changes in your appetite, for example feeling more hungry or wanting more snacks
  • Being more prone to physical health problems, such as colds, infections or other illnesses
  • Losing interest in sex or physical contact.

For confidential guidance and support, Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Individuals can call 116 123 or email [email protected]


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