Bonjour for teen at open
AFTER winning the Wimbledon junior championship, Ipswich product Ashleigh Barty had the world at her feet.
The then 15-year-old player's days of focusing on junior tournaments were over.
That's been confirmed with Barty securing a wildcard into the main draw of the French Open starting on May 27.
Her proud dad Robert yesterday said Ashleigh would also try to qualify for the Wimbledon Open after the French Open, bypassing the junior tournament she won last year.
"It's awesome," Robert said of Ashleigh's latest achievement.
"We knew she was in with a show but we didn't know she got it until we'd got the email through."
Robert receives emails from his daughter most days during her long stints away from their Springfield home.
Ashleigh, who turned 16 last month, is currently in Italy playing in a lead-up tournament.
She's expected to head to Paris at the weekend to complete preparations for her first French Open, having made the first round of last year's junior event.
Ashleigh's mum Josie is currently overseas offering valuable support to Australia's rising star.
Robert said the most recent emails from Ashleigh and Josie indicated everything was going to plan.
"She's really happy. She likes the clay and keen to see it all happen now," Robert said.
Ashleigh always wanted to play on the famous Roland-Garros French Open clay, since rising up the ranks and contesting open tournaments since she was 12.
After last year's French junior tournament, the Ipswich ace went on to win her first Wimbledon junior crown before returning to Australia to secure major open titles in Mildura and Sydney.
She was the youngest player contesting the Australian Open for the first time in January.
The powerhouse performer was runner-up at the recent City of Ipswich International tournament.
Back on home soil for that Australian Pro Tour event, Ashleigh spoke about her hectic schedule being one of the country's rising tennis talents.
As soon as she finished playing, she headed off for more training.
"She doesn't get any time to herself anymore but that's part and parcel of what's she chosen to do," Robert said.
After the City of International final on clay, she returned to her training base in Melbourne before heading overseas.
"She had a five-week block of really hard training with (coach) Jason Stoltenberg and now she's over in Italy," Robert said.
"She enjoys her really hard training blocks. It's what she's got to do."
After the French Open, Ashleigh is heading to Nottingham for two pro tournaments before trying to qualify for the main draw at Wimbledon.
"I don't think she'll play the juniors," Robert said. "That's something Jason (Stoltenberg) will work out."
Born: Ipswich, April 24, 1996
Major successes: 2011 Wimbledon junior champion; qualified 2012 Australian Open and Brisbane International. Won open tournaments in Sydney and Mildura this year.
Qualities: Dedicated, versatile on court, family minded.