SUBWAYmoments after Ashleigh Barty clinched her first Wimbledon women’s singles title, and with her body still surging with adrenaline and relief, she crossed center court, crossed a barrier and stepped into the crowd.
Seasoned Wimbledon watchers knew what was coming. Before long, Barty clambered up into the NBC broadcast booth and into the players’ box where, to the great delight of the crowd, she hugged her physical therapist, coach, and boyfriend, who had all helped make her dream come true. childhood.
“There was a bit of a wobbly step there,” he joked. “He probably should have taken the elevator.”
The act, of course, had strong echoes of Pat Cash after his victory over Ivan Lendl in 1987. But, after the waves of euphoria had begun to subside, it was another Australian that Barty paid tribute to after his 6-3, 6- Victory 7, 6-3 over Karolina Pliskova: the great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won this title in 1971 and 1980.
“I hope I made her proud,” she said of her friend and mentor. “Evonne is a very special person in my life. I believe he has been an icon in paving the way for indigenous youth to believe in their dreams and pursue their dreams. She has done exactly that for me too.
“I think being able to have a relationship with her and talk to her through my experience, knowing that she’s only a phone call away, it’s really cool.”
Barty, who like Goolagong Cawley is of indigenous descent, paid tribute to her during this year’s tournament with a version of her Fila dress with a scalloped hem.
And she also seemed determined to emulate the shape of Cawley’s first win at Wimbledon, 50 years ago this month, when she managed a 4-0 lead over her Czech opponent.
That was the exact result that Goolagong Cawley had enjoyed when she played in the final against Margaret Court in 1971 before racing to a straight-sets victory. Barty, however, would face a much tougher fight.
Perhaps initially it was too easy for her, as she seemed to have the Midas touch in the first set. Whether it was topspin throws or topspin backhand, it all seemed to fit. Meanwhile, Pliskova seemed paralyzed with nerves and moved with all the dexterity of one who has just looked Medusa in the eye.
The tension also affected the Czech player’s serve. He had hit more aces than anyone in the women’s singles before the final. But instead of launching 115 mph howitzers, it started first service in the mid-1980s.
It also didn’t help that Barty’s backhand was such a lethal weapon. Often times, the 6-foot-1 Pliskova responded to the ball sliding over the net and sliding across the grass by scoring her response.
The second set kept going up and down between the sublime and the ordinary. But while Barty looked more nervous by the minute, she maintained control and served for the match at 6-5. Pliskova had other ideas, breaking up before taking the set in a tie-break.
However, the Czech returned momentum by breaking early in the third set. And when the game was briefly delayed when the crowd spotted Hollywood actor Tom Cruise, he was 5-2 down and facing an impossible mission. So it turned out that Barty almost held on, before jumping into the crowd to celebrate with his team.
Understandably, it was his physio Mel Omizzolo, who had somehow put Barty in shape and prepared just 26 days after he pulled out of the French Open with a hip injury, who the new champion came first. “Being able to play here at Wimbledon was a miracle,” he admitted. “It was a two-month injury.”
Barty, who was a junior champion at Wimbledon in 2011, had once felt so much pressure playing tennis that she took a career hiatus to play professional cricket for the Brisbane Heat. This victory on grass, in addition to his victory at the French Open in 2019, shows just how truly off-roading he is now.
“It was the most incredible feeling that I think I have ever experienced on a tennis court,” he said. “Certainly there was unbelief. I think I have worked very hard my entire career to try to achieve my goals and my dreams. Being able to do that today was incredible. “
By the way, 50 years ago when Goolagong Cawley won his first Wimbledon, he was asked how he was going to celebrate. “I guess a group of us are going to a ‘disco’ tonight to celebrate,” he replied.
Barty, however, promised to keep it “discreet.” “But I am incredibly proud,” she added. And so it should be.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism