As if she needed another weapon. As if the athleticism, the versatility, the all-court vision weren’t enough, reigning World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has developed something that might just set her apart more than anything else: The ability to keep it all in perspective, an underlying knowledge that at the end of the day, the wins and losses aren’t tantamount to life and death.

“I know deep down that I’m a good person. I try and grow every single day. Regardless of whether I win or lose a tennis match, that shouldn’t change that process,” said Barty, the top seed at the Volvo Car Open. “I think it’s just about knowing that my self-worth as a human being doesn’t depend on wins and losses.”

Maybe that’s why the 25-year-old Australian comes off so even-keeled on the tennis court, whether she’s down a break in the third or closing out a win love-and-love. When you’re not consumed by the outcome, it frees you up to focus on the things you can control, to apply all you’ve been working on on the practice court.

“That’s the attitude I try to take to every single match. You just go out there and do the best that you can,” said Barty, fresh off a second consecutive Miami Open championship. “Sport doesn’t always allow you to come out with the desired result, with the win, but you can certainly go about it the right way. I think that’s the challenge that I try to live up to every single day, just being accountable for my actions and my effort, as opposed to the actual results.”

It’s been a taxing few weeks for Barty. Following a 50-hour odyssey from her homeland to the U.S., she found herself facing a match point against Kristina Kucova in her Miami opener, her title defense in immediate jeopardy. But she refused to give in, her self-belief leading her to a turnaround. Five matches later, Barty was once again holding the trophy aloft.

Despite the grueling effort, Barty arrives in Charleston in top form. Credit Craig Tyzzer, her coach, says Barty, along with Mark Taylor and the rest of her fitness team.

“I think you almost find a bit of a sweet spot as an athlete as to what training works for you,” said Barty. “It’s also no secret that I love the hard work. I enjoy it.”

“My body feels great. We’ve done a lot of work over the preseason to make sure that my body can hold up and withstand a lot of matches. We were able to do that in Miami. But coming into Charleston, we’re excited to play. It’s a beautiful city. I love playing here. I played here a couple of times when I was a little bit younger, and I’ve been desperate to get back.”

Following a first-round bye, Barty will open her clay-court campaign against 83rd-ranked Misaki Doi of Japan, a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Yaroslava Shedova. It will be an on-the-fly surface swap for Barty, but the 2019 Roland Garros titlist says she’s indeed up for the challenge.

“It is an adjustment, without a doubt,” said Barty, who’s appearing in Charleston for the first time since 2018, when she reached the Round of 16. “I find that green clay is almost a ‘middle man’ between hard courts and European red clay. Sometimes the green clay is a little bit quicker. You can typically move on it like a hard court if you wish, or you can go straight into sliding a little bit and moving like on a traditional clay court, so we’ll have to be patient this week and not feel like we’re rushing into trying to feel like we’re playing our best clay-court tennis straight away. It’s important to let the body adjust.”

Ashleigh Barty