July 4, 2019 / 4:08 PM / 18 days ago

Barty, Stephens keep eyes on the ball outside Wimbledon

LONDON (Reuters) - It is not just the on-court action at the All England Club that is proving to be a big draw for the players competing at Wimbledon this fortnight.

Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 4, 2019 Australia's Ashleigh Barty celebrates after winning her second round match against Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck REUTERS/Carl Recine

While whacking a furry yellow ball across manicured lawns remains a priority for most players — maybe with the exception of Bernard Tomic who was fined 45,000 pounds after organizers deemed he had ‘tanked’ his first-round match — Ash Barty and Sloane Stephens are also having a ball away from the courts.

With the women’s soccer World Cup going on in neighboring France and the women’s cricket Ashes taking place in England, there is plenty of other sporting action to keep the duo occupied once they are done with their tennis commitments.

Stephens, who is engaged to Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, has been spoilt for choice when it comes to watching soccer.

Not satisfied with cheering on her female compatriots as they beat England to set up a World Cup final against the Netherlands, she has also been staying up late to watch her countrymen reach the Gold Cup final, where they face Mexico in Chicago.

“I have been watching it. It’s not like I’m so busy here that I have a lot of other things to do. I have definitely been

keeping up,” the 2017 U.S. Open champion said after reaching the third round of Wimbledon with a brisk 6-0 6-2 win over China’s Yafan Wang.

“Obviously, with the World Cup and then the men’s, the Gold Cup, between my two soccers, I’m fully booked.”

World number one Barty has even closer ties with the Australian women’s cricket team as she played alongside some of them during her 17-month hiatus from tennis when she played professional Big Bash Cricket in her home country.

“I chat to them quite a lot,” the French Open champion said after dispatching Alison van Uytvanck 6-1 6-3.

But with Barty playing both singles and women’s doubles at Wimbledon, she has no idea if she can fit in a get-together with her cricket pals.

“There are some that I stay in touch with a little bit more than others. We’re trying to work out a time where we can

catch up. I’m not sure our schedules will align easily for us to be able to have a catch-up.

“But for sure I’m keeping an eye on their progress.”

Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ed Osmond

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