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How Ash Barty’s mentors helped her win Wimbledon

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

And why more than one mentor-mentee relationship is key to a winning streak.

Ash Barty didn’t just claim the Wimbledon cup, she won over the audience and captured our hearts. In her humble, gracious and authentic Australian way she showed us, you don’t need to play the prima donna or adapt an aggressive battler persona to make a statement. A lesser-known fact is her prowess in choosing the right combination of mentors to help her reach the coveted moment of lifting the Venus Rosewater dish in front of a global cheering crowd.

Evonne Goolagong inspires Barty to dare to dream, stay modest and get in touch with her indigenous roots.

In a documentary narrated by Ash herself titled “The impossible dream, we learn that indigenous Australian tennis legend - Evonne Goolagong was an inspiration and tale of determination for Ash.

“I think if I could be half the person that Evonne is, I’d be a very, very happy person,” Barty said.

With a tennis dress sewed from bedsheets, and a racket built from a fruit box, the young outback Evonne set out to conquer Wimbledon in the seventies and the world. And she did so graciously and unpretentiously, making her one of the most likeable players of all time.

“...She has been iconic in paving the way for indigenous youth to believe in their dreams and to chase their dreams. She’s done exactly that for me... ‘

For Ash who shared first-nation heritage with her mentor, Evonne was a legacy on and off-court. She emulated her modest, down-to-earth set of values. She embraced every mentoring conversation. And like Evonne, she decided earlier on that tennis would not define her.

How mentor, performance and mindset coach Ben Crowe helped Barty.

What we can all learn from Ben.

Mindset coach Ben Crowe comes with an impressive list of mentees, from football players to world champion surfer Stephanie Gilmore. Ben can be credited for not only making Ash a better player but a better person, according to Ash herself.

"Ben has been helping me with my mental application, and changing my perspective of things in both life and in sport," said Barty.

Here’s what we can all learn from Ben’s guidelines:

To become your best self, according to Ben you first need to let go of what you can't control and focus on what you can. From there-on, you need to focus on authenticity and work out first and foremost 'who am I’? This requires you to disconnect with the persona and focus more on the person.

Back to Wimbledon, Ash Barty showed how she embodied Ben Crowe’s message of authenticity on so many levels. Barty gave herself permission to embrace her imperfections, to fall down and make mistakes and to connect with her inner self.

“Playing tennis is what she does, but it’s not who she is,” said Crowe.

Ben sees the world divided between two types of people:

Those who embrace vulnerability as a strength and those that see it as a weakness.

The latter is usually in a state of defense, not very compassionate and usually close-minded. But those that see vulnerability as a strength, as Barty did, and lean into emotional exposure, curiosity and uncertainty, can experience great things.

“If we can be kinder to ourselves we will be more compassionate to others.

Ben taught Ash to overcome the fear of inadequacy and failure and avoid the myth of thinking we need the perfect body, job or relationship.

Antidote to the perfection myth - The ability to celebrate imperfections and reframe memories holding us back.

When you accept vulnerability, it gives you the permission to celebrate those imperfections, as well as be able to say 'I am enough.'

Own your story!

We are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and we are the author. We get to decide how it turns out. Addressing our narrative involves going back over memories or stories holding us back from pursuing our goals and realising our potential.

Ben Crowe explains: “This means: reframing them (those memories) so they become a more positive, affirmation-based story on who I am. From that place then I can work out what I want."

For Ash she was able to focus on the human being. She gained her mojo by not caring what other people think on one hand, and embracing her humble and kind side on the other.

For us it could be getting out of our comfort zone, dreaming big, not small and using intentional mindset shifts to get to the seat of who we really are. This matters far more than what we do.


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