Typically, Ash Barty’s first thoughts on her latest individual honour were about others.
Barty is among a batch of sports luminaries recognised in Sunday’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List, with the recently retired tennis star appointed an Order (AO) of Australia.
The same honour has also been bestowed on the late cricket great Shane Warne.
Women’s cricket captain Meg Lanning, men’s cricket larrikin Doug Walters and golfer Adam Scott are among other feted sports identities appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia.
Barty’s response to her honour was true to renowned selflessness.
“There are so many Australian people who do wonderful things for our country,” she said.
“And I want to congratulate all of the other award recipients on being recognised for their contributions.”
Barty’s AO follows her other AO triumph, capturing the Australian Open singles title in January.
Within two months of that storied victory – her third major singles title – Barty stunned the sports world by retiring. The Queenslander said she no longer had the mental or physical drive to continue her reign as world No.1.
Barty remains content with her decision, announced a month shy of her 26th birthday in April. And she hopes her latest honour, and her esteemed career, is a source of inspiration to others.
“I’m a very proud Australian and representing my country to the best of my ability has always been my priority,” she said.
“On a personal level, I always try to uphold Australian values – being humble, respectful, kind and caring for others.
“I hope to continue my contribution to our country, focusing on providing youth with sport and education opportunities and inspiring all young kids to go after their dreams.”
Shane Warne often described his life as a soap opera. Wickets, women, famous friends, lavish lifestyle – Warne played in the spotlight on and off the cricket field.
But his posthumous Queen’s Birthday Honour, appointed an Order (AO) of Australia, shines a light on a side of Warne kept largely in the shadows: his philanthropy.
Warne’s AO cites his distinguished service to cricket as a player and commentator, recognising the immense sporting contribution of the Australian who died from a suspected heart attack at a Thailand resort on March 4, aged 52.
But Sunday’s honour was also bestowed on Warne for his service to the wider community through charity and philanthropy.
Some of Warne’s generosity was public, such as auctioning his baggy green Test cap in the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires in his home state of Victoria in 2009.
The cap was purchased by the Commonwealth Bank for $1,007,500 – a record price paid for an item of Australian sports memorabilia – with all proceeds dedicated to bushfire victims.
There was also the Shane Warne Foundation, which raised $7.8 million to support ill and underprivileged children in Australia for a dozen years before closing.
But other organisations quietly benefited from Warne’s philanthropy. He was a benefactor for My Room Children’s Cancer Charity and a long-time supporter of Challenge, which also helped kids with cancer.
Warne donated memorabilia and made voluntary appearances at fundraising events for a range of charities including Elton John AIDS Foundation, Australian Red Cross, Scope and the Small Steps Project.
And his reach extended beyond Australia, with support for the 2011 Christchurch earthquake recovery and contributions to the rebuilding of the town of Galle in Sri Lanka and its cricket stadium following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
Warne also supported various UN development programs including the Lion’s Share wildlife fund. The UN announced the establishment of a conservation grant in his name after his death.
Other sports identities featured in the honours list released on Sunday, include Muriel Picton, who was Australia’s women’s cricket Test captain in the 1960s, and who also represented her nation in hockey.
Picton was appointed an AO, as were rugby union great Brendan Moon, who played 35 Tests for the Wallabies between 1978 and 1986, and Sandra McCaw, whose sporting achievements included four Australian women’s amateur golf titles between 1972 and 1984.