Ipswich to honour hero

If Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding gets her way, we could soon see Ash Barty fronting a ticker tape parade through the streets of Ipswich after she broke a 44-year hoodoo at the Australian Open, writes Darren Hallesy.

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Unless you’d been living under a rock, you’d know world No.1 Ash Barty, arguably the biggest sporting achiever to come from the City of Ipswich, won the Australian Open late last month.

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She won the Open women’s singles title without dropping a single set as she powered her way to the championship. It only leaves the US Open as the only one of the four ‘Grand Slam’ events she has yet to win.

Speaking in Tulmer Place after joining thousands of Ipswich residents who chose to support local business and watch the match in pubs and clubs, Mayor Teresa Harding watched the match at Brothers Leagues Club and now hopes the proud Ipswich local will join the celebrations with a parade, and possibly even a statue.

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“Ash is so humble, so hard working and so focused. “We saw, when she was down, she knuckled down and she won.

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“We have a number of billboards across the city this week – five all-up – highlighting her incredible achievement.”

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Barty received the Keys To Ipswich City in 2017, so the question is how can we celebrate having the world’s best tennis player living locally?

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“Ipswich love for Ash is long and deep. We’ve named tennis courts after her, and I’d love to help organise a ticker tape parade for her,” Mayor Harding said.

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“We’ve been wanting to do that for a while, and in July last year she won Wimbledon, then went off to prepare and then play at the Olympics.

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“Now she’s won the Australian Open, we can’t wait for her to get back to Ipswich so the local residents can show their admiration for her and join in celebrating her achievements.

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“We’d also love to have a statue of Ash Barty.

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“The Queensland Government has opened up some grants for the creation of statues celebrating women, so we would love to be involved in that, and we are in discussions with Ash’s team about that.

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“There are lots of places that statue could be, such as the tennis courts in Leichhardt, and we’ll discuss it with the community to get their thoughts.”

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When asked if she ever got sick of celebrating Ipswich’s sports starts, she admitted that wasn’t the case.

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“I’ll talk about Ash any day of the week, because she in quintessentially ‘Ipswich’,” the mayor said.

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“She’s down to earth, she is focused, she works very hard, and she wants to achieve her dreams.

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“She said after the match that winning that Aus Open was always her dream. Who doesn’t get goose bumps when you hear that?

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“The last two years have been tough here and globally.

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“To have someone as wonderful as Ash do this is heart-warming, and we now need that lift.

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“It shows her and her family’s humbleness that she built her home in Ipswich.

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“She could have done that anywhere in the world, but this is her home and we love the fact that she’s staying here.”

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Tennis clubs across Ipswich – and the state – have reported a resurgence in the sport’s popularity, possibly due to the effect of Barty’s exposure and success.

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The Hotshots Tennis program, aimed at young kids, is incredibly popular around the nation.

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As for Barty, who knows what will be named in Ipswich after her, as she’s only getting started on the world tennis circuity, with possibly many years ahead of title-winning matches.

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“People have mentioned naming things after her – roads, bridges and more,” Mayor Harding added.

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“Everything is on the table, but we are very respectful of her wishes and, again, she’s so humble as a person.

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“Not sure if we can have a public holiday in Ipswich to Ash Barty, maybe I’ll talk to the Premier about that one.”

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