Ash Barty opens up about the moment she discovered she had Indigenous heritage: ‘I’ve tasted the bitter edge of racism’
Ashleigh Barty admitted tasting the ‘bitter edge of racism’ because her Indigenous heritage and revealed she may have never found out about her background had it not been for her dad’s dedication.
In her new autobiography My Dream Time, which will be published on November 2, the former tennis great lifted the lid on her journey to discover her heritage and the vile abuse that came with it.
‘I’ve seen glimpses and tasted the faintest bitter edge of racism,’ Barty wrote.
Ashleigh Barty revealed she found out about her Indigenous heritage at the age of seven
‘I’d win a Deadly Award but get vilified on line. I’d become a Tennis Australia First Nations Ambassador and then find some muppet calling my heritage into question.’
Barty, who retired from tennis in March, saw the insults and abuse as proof a lot of work remains to be done to educate people about the importance of Indigenous heritage in Australia.
‘There was no need for us to talk about that in the moment but it was certainly something that confused me a little bit as to why someone would criticise something that is so personal to me,’ the three-time Grand Slam winner told NewsCorp.
‘Looking back now it’s all about the education and giving people the tools to understand others and appreciate what came before us.’
Barty’s memoir My Dream Time is due to be published on November 2
In her book, the former World No1 describes visiting Central Australia as ‘the most important journey I have ever made’.
The trip convinced Barty her future lies with helping First Nations youth across Australia.
‘Going to Central Australia and connecting with who I am and where I came from was really powerful. I didn’t know I would feel that was until I got there,’ she told NewsCorp.
‘If anything it has just reassured to me that the path I want to go down in the future is to try and help First Nations youth around the country.’
In her memoir, Barty reveals her future lies with helping First Nations youth across Australia
In her memoir, the 26-year-old revealed she wouldn’t have been aware of her heritage without her dad, Rob.
When he was 13, Rob was told by a cousin he had Indigenous heritage, something which his parents denied, insisting the family had links to Maoris in New Zealand instead.
Undeterred, Rob traced back his family history and found out his great-grandmother Nancy was an Indigenous Australian, who married a white man.
He told the story to Barty and her two sisters when the former tennis champion was seven years old and they all since have their names recorded as part of the Ngarigu Nation.
Barty retired in March, just two months after winning the Australian Open (above)
In the book, Barty conceded her grandparents weren’t prepared to discuss her dad’s heritage with him.
‘It was not a conversation his parents could have with him,’ she wrote.
‘To his parents, Aboriginal ancestry was something to be ashamed of and not something he should be curious about.’
My Dream Time: A Memoir Of Tennis & Teamwork by Ash Barty is due to be published on November 2.