Ashleigh Barty returns to the court after 11 months hiatus


World number one Ash Barty will return to competitive tennis after a lengthy hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic when she headlines two WTA tournaments in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open, organisers said on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Queenslander has not played a match since February, opting not to defend her French Open title and also skipping the U.S. Open in New York as the novel coronavirus wreaked havoc on global sport.

The pandemic is still affecting the tennis calendar, with the year’s first Grand Slam at Melbourne Park to start on Feb. 8, three weeks later than planned.

Barty, who held on to the top women’s singles ranking during last year’s disrupted season, will play for the first time in 11 months at one of two WTA 500 events from Jan. 31-Feb. 6 as part of the Melbourne Summer Series.

© Reuters

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