It would have been a nervous day for anyone — playing under the weight of expectations in front of an adoring home crowd, with the prospect of ending a 40-year wait for an Australian woman to make the final of the country’s biggest tournament.
The day may not have ended the way she hoped, with a semi-final loss to Sofia Kenin, but Ash Barty walked into a packed press conference at Melbourne Park with some precious cargo, and a smile that belied her disappointment.
“It’s my newest niece, my sister just had her, 11 or 12 weeks ago,” Barty said in introduction to the press corps.
“This is what life’s about, it’s amazing.”
Perhaps it should have come as no surprise that Ipswich’s most famous daughter was accentuating the positive, despite the end of her Australian Open dreams for 2020.
The player widely tagged one of the most popular on tour, has become well known for her calm demeanour on court.
Not only that, but the 23-year-old has some form about taking a light-hearted approach with the media.
At Wimbledon last year, she made a habit of sneaking some positive quotes into her press conferences — which on closer inspection proved to have been taken from various Disney movies.
When she made an early exit from that tournament, the self-confessed Disney-lover threw in a famous line from Annie to indicate the loss wasn’t the end of the world.
The Aussie crowd favourite acknowledged there was a level of sadness, but even then had to balance it with the positives from her start to the new tennis year.
“Yeah, it’s been disappointing but it’s been a hell of a summer,” she said.
“If you had told me three weeks ago that we would have won a tournament in Adelaide, and made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, I’d take that absolutely every single day of the week.”
At one point Olivia let out a cry, and Barty looked at her, saying “I hear you, sister!”.
But when a reporter questioned if the little girl had given her any comfort after her match, Barty showed a level head — and a sense of where her priorities lay.
“Perspective is a beautiful thing, life is a beautiful thing,” she said.
“She brought a smile to my face as soon as I came off the court.
“I got to give her a hug, and it’s all good. It’s all good.”
Then it was off to spend time with her team, including her youngest supporter.