Ash Barty faces best of the rest
Queensland's tennis wunderkind Ash Barty is in the running for a prestigious new honour chosen by YOU.
The Grand Slam sensation is on the shortlist for the inaugural GQ Australia Sportsperson of the Year - a publicly-voted award that levels the playing field for male and female athletes, with no categories for codes or genders.
And that means she's up against the best of the best from across our entire sporting universe.
Among the frontrunners are cricket stars Steve Smith, whose last 12 months have been a journey of redemption, and Ellyse Perry, who has shifted the dial dramatically for women's sport. Also up there are Qld motorbike ace Toby Price, basketballer Ben Simmons and footy stars from three codes.
The winner will be revealed at next month's prestigious 2019 GQ Men of the Year Awards - and it's all down to regular Aussies as to who that will be.
Marking today's launch of the poll, Perry saluted her "incredible" fellow nominees and said she was flattered to be on the list. And she welcomed the gender-blind approach as "really cool".
"It doesn't differentiate between men's and women's sport, it put all athletes on the same level," she added.
Perry also revealed her team's Ashes victory had been the standout moment of her year.
"It was such a special tournament to be a part of and retaining the Ashes made it an unbelievable moment for the team."
VOTE NOW: Pick your Sportsperson of the Year here
GQ Editor Mike Christensen urged readers to vote at gq.com.au/MOTYVOTE, saying the award recognises the athlete whose performance throughout the year has reached a level of excellence both on and off the field.
He also wants to know if you disagree with the shortlist. It was compiled by a panel including former AFL player and Nova star Ryan Fitzgerald, Fox Sports league legend Matty Johns, his Fox Sports mates Kelli Underwood and Yvonne Sampson, Wallaby David Pocock, wheelchair athlete Dylan Alcott and surf star Mick Fanning.
Queenslander Barty was a favourite among the experts after winning her first Grand Slam and reaching the pinnacle of the world rankings.
"Ash is everything Aussie sports fans love in their athletes, humble, tenacious and hard working," said Johns.
Smith was another nominated multiple times, with Sampson saying his Ashes work "will echo for eternity as one of the greatest individual performances Australian sport has ever seen" while Fitzy said: "Under immense pressure, the mental toughness Steve Smith displayed will go down in sporting history."
Alcott also features on the list - though we can assure readers he didn't vote for himself.
"After a shaky few years, Australian sport is back on the rise," Christensen said. "Spearheaded by our cricketers' success abroad, Aussie athletes have begun to find their way back to the top of the international order. Representatives from Down Under are now dominating the NBA, they're sitting atop the world tennis rankings and helping to change the face of women's soccer."
THE GQ SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR SHORTLIST
Dylan Alcott: Claimed his 6th major title in wheelchair tennis this year and worked with the Dylan Alcott Foundation, founded to help young Australians with disabilities gain confidence.
Ash Barty: On top of the world at the age of just 23, Barty stands as a shining beacon for all that is worth praising about Australian tennis.
Scotty James: With three Olympics, two world championships, and an XGames gold medal already in the bag, the snowboarder is the winter sports king of Australia.
Toby Price: Australian off-road and enduro motorcycle racing world champion, with four Finke wins and five Hattah Desert Race victories among his trophies.
Ellyse Perry: All-rounder and leading women's Big Bash run scorer has emerged as one of the most consistent and dominant cricket players in the world. She's handy at soccer too.
Erin Phillips: A multi-disciplinarian extraordinaire, Phillips left a spot on the Opals behind to establish herself as the nation's leading AFLW player.
Steve Smith: Australia's rock through an incredible Ashes series, Steve Smith rose from Sandpapergate to emerge as one of the nation's greatest cricketing heroes since Bradman.
Samantha Kerr: In the four years since Kerr last played in a World Cup, winning has become a habit for the 25-year-old as she divides her time between the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL and Perth Glory in the W-League.
Pat Cummins: With men's Australian cricket at an historic low, it was Cummins who solidified himself as the team's main threat on the field throughout 2019.
Ben Simmons: The Melbourne-born prodigy was one of the most hyped names entering the NBA since LeBron James. Two seasons in and he's only lived up the expectation, with a Rookie of the Year and an All Star selection already under his belt.
James Tedesco: An NRL megastar for the new generation, Tedesco is league's man of the moment. His Origin performance was outstanding.
Dustin Martin: The bad boy of AFL established himself as an all-time great over by kicking Richmond to Grand Final victory and securing a second Norm Smith medal.
Patty Mills: 10 years in the NBA and Mills is still dropping buckets like a freshman while his work off the field sets the standard for Aussie athletes using their platform to enact positive change.