Ashleigh Barty has retained her number one spot at the top of the rankings and says she doesn't have to prove anything to anyone.
Barty won the Miami Open title on Saturday, after opponent Bianca Andreescu was forced to retire in the second set through injury.
But the tournament had been a tough test for the Australian who took a full year out of the sport during the coronavirus pandemic and only returned in February this year.
While away from tennis, Barty was able to take advantage of the temporary system put into place by the WTA to protect players rankings through the crisis which meant she retained her number one position despite not hitting a ball.
But although some critics have questioned if she deserved that spot, Barty is relaxed and confident about her status.
"I never have to prove anything to anyone," Barty said. "I know all the work that I do with my team behind the scenes.
"I know there has been a lot of talk about the ranking, but I didn't play at all last year and I didn't improve any of my points whatsoever.
"Yes, I didn't drop, but I didn't improve any. I didn't play any at all. There were girls who had the chance to improve theirs, so I felt like I thoroughly deserve my spot at the top of the rankings."
Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, has been world number one since September of that year, despite skipping the rescheduled US and French Opens in 2020 to remain in Australia.
"The year we had in 2019 was incredible, incredible for us, and, you know, to be able to build on that now since the restart for us has been great," Barty said.
"We come out here and do the best that we can regardless of what anyone is saying. So I never feel like I have to prove anything to anyone."
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That's absolutely fine. I can't control what anyone else thinks or what anyone else says. I feel like we deserve to be top of the rankings," she said.
"It doesn't ever really get to me. I mean, it's just what people say and I can't change their opinion, so it doesn't stress me out at all."
"In 2019 throughout each week that I played, I felt like I got better and better on the clay and obviously grew in confidence and grew in experience," Barty said.
"If it turns out we have a great clay court season, that's fantastic, and if we don't, then it's not the end of the world."
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