Australia’s top-ranked tennis player, Ashleigh Barty, will become Tennis Australia’s Indigenous ambassador, as part of a push to promote the sport to Aboriginal children.
It coincides with the announcement of a National Indigenous Tennis Carnival, launched by Barty — the world number 18 player — and Tennis Northern Territory.
“I’m a very proud Indigenous woman and I think that for me taking on this role is something very close to my heart. I’m very excited,” she said.
“[Sport] is very much driven by AFL … So if we can get more kids playing tennis more kids enjoying tennis across Australia within the Indigenous communities, that’d be amazing.”
The carnival will run annually in Darwin at the new Marrara Tennis Centre, which is slated to open in June.
Barty said she hoped the event would help pave the way for budding Indigenous athletes.
“To make this an annual event will be amazing, for not only tennis across Australia but especially Indigenous tennis,” she said.
“To bring all of the kids together to give them an opportunity to showcase what they’re capable of.”
National event a ‘celebration of culture’
Tennis NT CEO Sam Gibson said the carnival would give Indigenous kids a chance to develop their tennis skills.
“What we want to see ultimately … that the Indigenous youth across the country really explore their passion for tennis and grow their love for it,” he said.
“Whilst a lot of the activity will be on the court … it will also be a celebration of culture off the court with music and arts and the like.”
Mr Gibson said it was the first time the carnival had been launched, and it was only fitting it was held in the Top End.
“It doesn’t exist currently in Australia,” he said.
“Part of our commitment with the Northern Territory Government when building this facility was to bring that event to Darwin.”
The carnival will kick off in September.