Ash Barty said she never has "to prove anything to anyone" after winning the Miami Open on Saturday.
The world number one won the title after Bianca Andreescu withdrew with the scores at 6-3 4-0 in the Australian’s favour. Andreescu had fallen earlier in the match and sustained a foot injury, which forced her to retire.
Barty’s 2020 was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and her win at Miami was her second consecutive win in Florida after taking the 2019 edition.
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Speaking after the win, she said: “I never have to prove anything to anyone. I know all the work that I do with my team behind the scenes. I know there has been a lot of talk about the ranking, but I didn't play at all last year and I didn't improve any of my points whatsoever.
"I felt like I thoroughly deserve my spot at the top of the rankings.
“The year we had in 2019 was incredible, incredible for us, and, you know, to be able to build on that now since the restart for us has been great, but certainly in my eyes we come out here and do the best that we can regardless of what anyone is saying. So I never feel like I have to prove anything to anyone.
Barty continued: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That's absolutely fine. I can't control what anyone else thinks or what anyone else says. For me I just keep trying to do what we do.
“I feel like we deserve to be top of the rankings. We have had such a fantastic season. Also, I think everyone needs to understand that it's a pandemic. It's probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing for a lot of us to go through, so it's a bit of a difficult situation.
“It doesn't ever really get to me. I mean, it's just what people say and I can't change their opinion, so it doesn't stress me out at all.”
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When she was told that other consecutive winners at Miami include Stefi Graf, Monica Seles, Arancha Sanchez Vicario and both Williams sisters, Barty admitted that: “I feel like I shouldn't belong with that group.
“I feel like I haven't earned the right to be in a list of names with those champions. They are genuine champions of our sport, legends of our sport. I feel very privileged to be mentioned in that sentence, and it's very cool and something I was unaware of.
“I think it's extremely humbling to be mentioned in the same sentence as those champions, but I feel like I've got a long, long way to go yet before I can be in discussion with those names”
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