Ashleigh Barty
Ashleigh Barty Claudia Baxter

Wildcard for Barty at Roland Garros

AUSTRALIAN teenager Ashleigh Barty is ecstatic at being given a wildcard by Tennis Australia into the main draw of the French Open.

The 16-year-old from Ipswich is ranked 327 in the world and is presently playing in a Junior ITF Grade 1 tournament in Santa Croce in Italy.

Barty, last year's junior Wimbledon champion, said she was excited about the opportunity to test herself against the world's best players.

"I'm thrilled to compete in the main draw of the French Open for the first time and test my game against the world's best," Barty said.

"Thank you to Tennis Australia for believing in me enough to give me this opportunity. I'll do my best to make everyone proud."

In exchange for giving Australian Open mens and womens wildcards to two players from France and the US, Tennis Australia is given reciprocal wildcards to the French and US Opens each year.

The mens wildcard for the French Open has been given to 31-year-old Lleyton Hewitt.

Off the scene since foot surgery in February, Hewitt has been training well on clay in Europe and said he was looking forward to playing at Roland Garros after missing the tournament through injury last year.

Hewitt will join fellow Aussies Bernard Tomic and Matt Ebden in the mens draw, while Samantha Stosur, Jarmila Gajdosova, Casey Dellacqua and Anastasia Rodionova will line up in the womens draw.

Tennis Australia's director of tennis Craig Tiley said Barty's rapid rise through the womens ranks, coming on the back of her "commitment, work ethic and professionalism", had made it an esy decision to give her the wildcard.

"Ashley is continuing to improve and deserves to test herself against the world's best," Tiley said.

Barty was also given a wildcard into this year's Australian Open where she was beaten 6-2 7-6 by world No 80 Anna Tatashvili from Georgia.

She has already enjoyed success in open tournaments, taking out titles in Mildura and Sydney, and was recently beaten 7-6 6-1 by Poland's Sandra Zaniewska in the final of the City of Ipswich International.

After the French Open, Barty will head to Nottingham for two pro tournaments before trying to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon.


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