Todays Birthday 24/4

Callum Godde
Today's Birthday, April 24: Australian tennis player Ashleigh Barty (1996 - )

Today's Birthday, April 24: Australian tennis player Ashleigh Barty (1996 - ).

Rising star Ashleigh Barty may have slightly underwhelmed at this year's Australian Open, but the nation's highest-ranked female player has continued to prove she's world class.

The Queenslander has consolidated on her dream 2017 form, which saw her rocket 308 spots up the world rankings in 12 months, reaching the final of the Sydney International before she was beaten in a third-round boilover at Melbourne Park.

The top-20 star has since put the disappointment behind her, pulling Australia back from the brink of Fed Cup elimination against Ukraine and making a run to the fourth round of the Miami Open.

Born in the Queensland city of Ipswich, west of Brisbane, in 1996, Barty grew up in the nearby suburb of Springfield and turned to tennis before the age of five because she didn't want to play the "girls' sport" of netball with her two sisters.

Her junior coach, Jim Joyce, instantly recognised her innate talents and slowly cultivated a prodigy by pitting her against 15-year-old boys at age 9 and later full-grown men by age 12.

Barty was already being picked for international tours as a 14-year-old and started fine-tuning her game on the Australian ITF circuit in 2010.

She won the 2011 Wimbledon girls' singles crown and made her grand slam main draw debut at the 2012 Australian Open as a 15-year-old before making first-round appearances at Roland Garros and The All-England Club.

The teenager hit a then career-high ranking of 129 and reached doubles finals at three slams partnering mentor Casey Dellacqua in 2013, but tour life was taking its toll.

Disillusioned with the game and battling depression, Barty took an indefinite hiatus in 2014 to clear her head and retreated to coaching while dabbling in cricket with WBBL franchise Brisbane Heat.

The dalliance lasted 18 months with her tennis flame rekindled during a practice session with Dellacqua at the 2016 Sydney International.

After working her way back into the top 350 in 2016, the youngster used a third-round 2017 Australian Open run as a platform to claim five top-10 scalps and win her maiden title at the Malaysian Open.

Barty's phenomenal season led to her capturing the 2017 Newcombe Medal as Australia's most outstanding tennis player.