Top-ranked Ash Barty is set to lead Australia’s 11-member tennis team at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Australian squad was announced on Tuesday, hours before Barty’s scheduled first-round match at Wimbledon against Carla Suárez Navarro.
Former US Open champion Sam Stosur was selected to play singles and doubles in her fifth Olympics, while Nick Kyrgios, Alex de Minaur and John Millman were among the men selected for the Australian team.
“I think making your first Olympic team, particularly as an Australian, we have such a rich history and the Olympics is something I’ve always dreamt of and obviously super excited to get out there and represent the green and gold,” Barty said in a statement. “It’s a massive united team and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Some of the highest-profile players in the sport will not be contesting the Tokyo Games, where heavy restrictions will be imposed on athletes and foreign fans have been barred. Serena Williams has announced she will not be in contention for the US team.
On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem also have said they will skip the trip to Japan, where the Olympics open on July 23. Roger Federer is reserving his decision until after his campaign at Wimbledon.
The Olympics were last year postponed by 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Barty won the French Open and the season-ending WTA Finals in 2019 but missed most of the 2020 season after her semifinal loss at the Australian Open to stay at home during the pandemic.
She returned in time for the 2021 Australian Open, losing in the quarterfinals, then retired from her second-round match at the French Open because of an injured left hip.
In Tokyo, she’s planning to play singles and partner Storm Sanders in the doubles competition.
“Any opportunity you get to wear the green and gold, I wanted to grab it with both hands,” she said.
“I’m fit, I’m healthy, I’m excited to play doubles with Storm, she’s a childhood friend of mine and we’ve played a lot together. So to be able to live out this dream with her is really, really special.”
Fellow Australian Stosur said she too would relish the opportunity to wear the green and goal once again.
“It’s super special being able to represent your country in one Olympics, let alone five,” Stosur said on Tuesday.
“In primary school we did a time capsule thing. I went to the school for the first year that it opened and I wrote in there that I wanted to win a Grand Slam, be number one in the world and go to an Olympic Games.
“To have done two out of the three, thinking that when I was nine or 10-years-old … is something incredible.”
De Minaur is world number 15 — his career-best ranking — after winning his fifth career title at the Eastbourne International three days ago.
“It’s an incredibly special feeling (to be going to the Olympics),” he said.
“The anticipation brings a higher level of intensity and, of course, passion.
“Playing for your country, it’s always going to be very special.”