Pregnant Ash Barty receives huge ovation on return to Rod Laver Arena for Australian Open 2023 kids day

Ash Barty returned to the court where he took a final bow to his illustrious tennis career at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday’s Australian Open Kids Day.

The 26-year-old, who is pregnant with her first child, will not defend the women’s singles title in the next two weeks after retiring from the sport last March.

Watch the video above: The cheers at Ash Barty’s return to the Rod Laver Arena.

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With some commitments, including coaching young Australian cancer Olivia Gadecki, Barty is back in Melbourne for the Grand Slam.

But she may have already received the biggest cheers.

Barty will join world No. 1 Iga Swirtek, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka, and Australians Nick Kyrgios, Sam Stosur, Storm Hunter and Heath Davidson on Saturday’s Kid’s Day on court. He was the last person to be introduced to the young audience when he lined up for the show.

The Queenslander emerged from the tunnel with a smile you couldn’t wipe off your face.

“This is surreal. I never thought I’d be back on this beautiful court so quickly. This is incredible, so much fun. I’m so happy to be back,” Bertie said.

Ash Bertie emerges from the tunnel to loud cheers. credit: Robert Plunge/Getty Images
Barty hasn’t completely given up his racquet even after retiring. credit: Kelly definition/Getty Images

The three-time Grand Slam champion, who has not announced an expected pregnancy date, revealed earlier this month that she is “feeling good.”

“I am thrilled to be back on the court that has given me so many great memories,” Barty said.

“When I played on this court, I often remember how many kids were having fun here.

“It’s great to see today and see so many people completely fulfilled. Hopefully we can have a little bit of fun.”

Barty and Swiatek catch up before the batting challenge. credit: Robert Plunge/Getty Images
Bertie celebrates beating Swiertek. credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

Barty paired up with Swiertek for a batting challenge and couldn’t resist making fun of his former rival.

“I hope she’s stretched out, I hope she’s warm,” Bertie joked at first.

Swiatek said: “I’ve never felt so stressed.”

Bartie was the first to drive the ball into the box on the other side of the court, mocking Swiertek for falling behind the retirees.

“Come on, Iga, that’s your job, buddy,” she said.

This week, Swiatek confessed that he was in tears when he found out Barty was retiring after being unable to beat him in two meetings while on tour.

The 21-year-old said on Saturday she wished she could face the Australians on equal footing again.

“When she retired, I felt she was still playing her best tennis, so yes, I was pretty sad that I wouldn’t be able to compete with her and probably not win. .

“But on the other hand, she has given me a lot in terms of my motivation and my kind of desire to practice more and have more variety on the court.

“When I played against her, I felt like she had all the different game styles and slices.

“Even in her book, she says there are five types of slices.

“But yeah, I have a lot of respect for Ash. She gave me a lot of motivation at the beginning of last season to get even better.

Wimbledon champion Ash Barty and coach Craig Tizer hug after their biggest win. credit: Getty

In addition to helping fellow Queenslander Gadecki in Melbourne this week, Barty has partnered with Tennis Australia to guide players and coaches on their development journeys.

Her former coaches Craig Tizer and Jason Stoltenberg will also join the program for the first 12 months.

“Supporting the next generation of tennis talent is something I’m very passionate about,” Barty said.

“I am so excited to be working with Tyzz and Stolts, two people who have contributed to my career, to give back to the sport I love.

“This is just the beginning of our partnership and we hope that over time we can make a positive difference for young Australian players.”

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Big Bash Star auto 6 after hitting the roof

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