Ash Barty lifts lid on rejecting Andy Murray amid Emma Raducanu development at Wimbledon

The Aussie tennis champion has recounted the time she was forced to say no to Murray.

Ash Barty has revealed her reasons for turning down an invitation to play doubles with Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2019 in light of the news he'll team up with Emma Raducanu this year. It was announced on Wednesday that Murray will play mixed doubles with Raducanu in his Wimbledon swansong, as well as men's doubles with brother Jamie.

Andy won't be playing singles at the All England Club this year after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst on his spine just last week. However the 37-year-old is fit enough to play doubles, and will be hoping to make a run with Jamie and Raducanu in the respective doubles competition.

Emma Raducanu, Andy Murray and Ash Barty at Wimbledon.
Ash Barty has revealed why she rejected Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2019 ahead of his team-up with Emma Raducanu this year. Image: Getty/AAP

As news broke of the Murray and Raducanu team-up on Wednesday, retired Aussie star Barty reminisced about when he asked her to play with him in 2019. The Aussie said opted to focus on her singles campaign that year and had already committed to playing women's doubles, meaning Murray teamed up with Serena Williams in an iconic pairing instead.

Barty has been commentating for the BBC at Wimbledon this year, and revealed why she turned the British superstar down at the time. "Smart decision," she said of the Murray and Raducanu team-up. "I was silly enough when Andy asked me to play one year, my heartstrings were pulling. Physically I wasn't in the place to which he will understand.

"But Emma is going to have so much fun with Andy. He’s a brilliant guy, great sense of humour, unbelievable tennis player. What an occasion."

Andy and Jamie Murray, pictured here on the practice court at Wimbledon.
Andy and Jamie Murray on the practice court at Wimbledon. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Barty, who will play in the legends doubles with Casey Dellacqua at SW19, paid tribute to Murray ahead of his final campaign at Wimbledon. "His impact has been global, hasn’t it?" the Aussie said. "It's not only been here in the UK for young boys and girls to dream big and almost understand what it takes to come from not a lot and come out here onto biggest stage and enjoy everything.

"I love Andy as a person, I love him as an athlete. He’s had an exceptional career and it’s really nice that he can come out here and enjoy one last Wimbledon with his brother. I mean, I know he would’ve loved to have done it on the singles court but to be out there with your brother is pretty amazing."

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Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Murray said: "I chatted a bit with my team about [mixed doubles] and they said 'what exactly are you trying to get out of it?' Firstly, we want to be competitive in the matches - and playing with another Brit was going to be something that would be nice."

Murray said Raducanu is "obviously one of the top British players" and was "top of the list" as a partner. In her press conference after beating Elise Mertens in singles to advance to the third round, Raducanu said: "My doubles record isn't exactly the longest or the most vast but I couldn’t say no.

"It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a young girl. Andy’s a hero to us all. It's a real gift and a real honour that he asked me."

Coco Gauff, Danielle Collins and Elena Svitolina were other big names to advance on Wednesday, but Naomi Osaka crashed out. The four-time grand slam champion lost to American 19th seed Emma Navarro's 6-4 6-1, continuing a disappointing run since returning to the tour.