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Tearful Ash Barty realises her Wimbledon dream

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Tearful Ash Barty realises her Wimbledon dream

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Tears of joy as Aussie ace Ash Barty realises her childhood Wimbledon dream

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A tearful Ash Barty has realised her Wimbledon dream, repelling a ferocious comeback from Karolina Pliskova and imposing her own glorious all-court game in a compelling three-setter to win the trophy she had always longed to hold.

Just like her idol and mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley first did half a century earlier, Barty, another Indigenous Australian, annexed the Venus Rosewater Dish, needing real steel to go with the style on Saturday to win 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 on Centre Court.

Barty said she’d have to play the match of her life to become the first Aussie woman since Goolagong Cawley in 1980 to take the crown and she did just that, breaking the biggest server in the tournament six times after Pliskova’s delivery had previously been breached only four times all event.

And having emulated another Aussie Wimbledon winner Pat Cash by scrambling – inelegantly, she thought – up into her players’ box to embrace coach Craig Tyzzer and her team, Barty shed a tear about Goolagong.

“She does (mean a lot to me),” Barty, wearing a version of the dress Goolagong wore when lifting the 1971 title, explained to the Centre Court crowd. “I hope I made Evonne proud.”

She told the cheering throng: “You’ve made my dream so special.

“It took me a long to verbalise the fact that I wanted to dare to dream and say I wanted to win this incredible tournament – and being able to live out my dream right now with everyone here has made it better than I could ever imagine.

“I didn’t sleep a lot last night, thinking about all the ‘what ifs’ but when I came out on this court, I felt at home in a way.”

Barty’s most significant milestone on an incredible journey. Picture: AAP

And she looked it for most of a match that she effectively had to win twice, having served for it at 6-5 in the second set only for the Czech world No.13 to fight back from chronic early nerves, win a net cord-aided tiebreak and take the match into a decider.

That’s when Barty showed why she’s the world No.1, recovering her poise and unleashing that killer slice increasingly to take the final set after one hour and 55 minutes of a final that simply grew in quality as the match unfolded.

There were nerves to be conquered right to the end.

Barty, serving for the match a second time at 5-3 in the third, looked as if she might miss out again when Pliskova eked out a break point but a seventh ace down the T and a tame backhand into the net from the Czech took her to heaven.

It left the 25-year-old champion, barely able to register how she’d just won her second grand slam title after the French Open win of 2019, slumping to her haunches, her hands over her tearful face as it dawned what she’d achieved.

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For it marked the most significant milestone yet on an incredible global journey for 25-year-old Barty, who left Australia in March and had suffered tournament-winning elation and injury-ridden despair in equal measure leading into this crowning triumph.

Just a month ago, she feared she would not even make the start line at Wimbledon because of the hip injury she suffered at the French Open.

Yet after a remarkable rehabilitation and growing stronger with each round, Ipswich’s finest saved her best to last to become only Australia’s third ladies champion after Margaret Court and Goolagong as she lifted her fourth title of an astonishing year.

To start with, it seemed she might just run away with one of the most one-sided final wins Wimbledon had ever seen as Pliskova seemed almost paralysed by the occasion, with her stiff movement and unusually feeble serving seeing her lose the match’s first 14 points.

It couldn’t be that easy – and it wasn’t as Pliskova, happily, freed herself from her suffocation to make a match of it.

Ultimately, though, she couldn’t stop what the Aussie reckoned would be a pretty low-key “Barty party” on Saturday.

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