Monday, January 24

Ash Barty Becomes the Village Champion with a Touching Salute to Her Ancestry | Tennis


TOsh Barty was nearly out of center court, the Venus Rosewater Dish balanced on one arm as he walked into the tunnel, a hallway of ball boys standing up like sentinels, and the cheering crowd beyond giving their final ovation to a Wimbledon winner who it had captured his conscience. .

Observing small details on such a large stage, on such a great occasion, is not easy, but several rows back, hidden behind a crowd of photographers, was a woman in a T-shirt with the Aboriginal flag design. Barty pointed to that woman, Mel Jones, former cricketer and current co-chair of the CA First Nations advisory committee, and smiled. She was an eye for the details that matter most to her, her Ngarigo ancestry, and the 500 different Aboriginal peoples that make up what we call Australia.

Among them are Evonne Goolagong Cawley, a Wiradjuri woman who, exactly 50 years ago, won this tournament for the first time and was also the last Australian woman to triumph here in 1980. And Cathy Freeman, the Kuku Yalanji woman who in 2000 became the first Aboriginal Person to win an individual Olympic gold medal. Both have publicly expressed their pride in an athlete who, like them, has traveled a path to remedy the racial inequality that still exists in this country.

In the United States, Australia’s Olympic standard-bearer, Patty Mills, started talking about it after the basketball team’s victory in the warm-up over Argentina.

“Just amazing, amazing,” Mills said. “Forty-one years since the last Australian woman to win Wimbledon, and that was Evonne Goolagong Cawley, and 50 years since her first Wimbledon title, then Ash does it in a dress inspired by her idol at Evonne, during Naidoc week. .

“These are all things that give you goose bumps when you talk about incredible inspiration for everyone in Australia, especially indigenous Australians. I even choke a little thinking about it. “

This is the age of Ash Barty, both on and off the court. Karolína Plíšková was simply the latest in a long list of opponents beaten in victories that have kept her ranked No. 1 in the world since June 2019, when she claimed her first grand slam at the French Open.

This was different though, and not just because she’s Wimbledon and she’s a more confident player now. It was, as she put it, “nothing short of a miracle” that she was even able to play given that she had aggravated a hip injury that ended her Roland Garros campaign just five weeks ago.

The state of his body meant that he shouldn’t even have been competing. The state of the world made it logistically difficult. In fact, the pandemic meant that most of his family and friends were absent, the box of his supporters occupied only by the smallest circle of his ubiquitous team, including coach Craig Tyzzer and his partner Garry Kissick. There weren’t many other familiar faces in the stands either … except for Tom Cruise which, disconcertingly, seemed frozen in time for about 20 years, and the small specks of green and gold were disproportionate to the years before the arrival of Covid-19.

But maybe it’s all the “shouldn’t’s” that make his achievement even more remarkable. That made his acute-angled winner in the opposite service box sing even louder, his composed recovery after failing to serve the championship in the second set was more lively, and his rare display of excitement once he finally did more. touching.

This plot could not have been written and yet the protagonist, as is her way, played her role without problems. Mainly in the sense that she didn’t act at all. She was herself, as she always has been. After recognizing Jones and entering the All England Club, Barty exchanged compliments with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, accepted congratulations from Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova, then rejoined his team and laughed in the hallway.

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At home on the Gold Coast, his family was roaring in their living room. Many tennis fans, and not just Australians, were doing the same, clinging to a slice of a good thing amid all the misery of the past 18 months. The world needed a moment of relief and restoration, and Barty was the tonic.




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