Law need not worry about the baby when it comes to asking Barty the hard questions: after all, asking a tough question is the job of a journalist and no matter how confronting the question, they aren’t going to hurt the feelings of the baby. Trust me, I’ve got a two-year old and he’s yet to take exception at anything anyone’s ever said to me.
Secondly, bringing a baby is no more or less weird than sitting at a press conference and giving one-word, one-syllable, monotone, sulky answers that reveal nothing about the player or why they won or lost. Anyone who’s ever been to these press conferences knows that some athletes give you nothing, choosing to talk in circles or deliberately avoiding the question.
Barty was not being evasive or vague. In fact, she was clear when stating why she thought she lost: “I put myself in a position to win the match today and just didn’t play the biggest points well enough to be able to win.”
She knew she didn’t take her chances, pointing out, “I’m two points away from winning that in straight sets, which is disappointing,” before reiterating, “Yeah, it’s disappointing.”
Pretty straightforward isn’t it? One can only assume that when Barty was articulating all of this everyone was distracted by the baby.
Just because some tennis players on tour tie themselves in knots by an all-consuming fascination and obsession with the game, it doesn’t mean that approach is a one-size-fits-all template for all players to succeed. On the contrary, for Barty to be successful and to challenge deep into Grand Slam events, tennis needs to be just part of her life – not her whole life. She needs to enjoy the game, but not be defined by it. She needs to continue to give it her best in the knowledge that regardless of the result the sun will come up tomorrow and life will go on.
Once winning and losing begins to define how she defines herself and the game is no longer fun, she may well walk away. We know this, because she’s given it all up once before. In 2014 she quit the sport and, amongst other things, went and played cricket for the Brisbane Heat in the WBBL.
After 18 months she came back with a renewed passion and perspective on tennis and life. With this attitude she has risen to the top of the tennis world, winning the French Open along the way.
Bringing a baby into a press conference might have been her way of saying there’s more to life than tennis and it’s true that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But who cares? It works for Barty, which must count for something. She is, after all, the world number one.
Sam Duncan is a lecturer in sports media and marketing.