中号oments after Ashleigh Barty secured her first Wimbledon women’s singles title, and with her body still supercharged with adrenaline and relief, she skipped across Centre Court, over a barrier and into the crowd.
Seasoned Wimbledon watchers knew what was coming. Before long Barty had clambered over the NBC broadcast booth and into the players’ box where, to the great delight of the capacity crowd, she hugged her physio, coach and boyfriend who had all helped make her childhood dream a reality.
“There was a bit of a wobbly step there,” she joked. “I probably should have taken the elevator.”
The act, 当然, carried heavy echoes of Pat Cash after his victory over Ivan Lendl in 1987. 但, after the waves of euphoria had begun to subside, it was another Australian that Barty paid homage to following her 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova: the great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won this title in 1971 和 1980.
“I hope I made her proud,” she said of her friend and mentor. “Evonne is a very special person in my life. I think she has been iconic in paving a way for young Indigenous youth to believe in their dreams and to chase their dreams. She’s done exactly that for me as well.
“I think being able to have a relationship with her and talk with her through my experience, knowing she’s only ever a phone call away, is really, really cool.”
Barty, who like Goolagong Cawley is of Indigenous heritage, had paid tribute to her throughout this year’s tournament by wearing a version of her Fila scallop-hemmed dress.
And she also appeared intent on emulating the manner of Cawley’s first Wimbledon victory, 50 years ago this month, as she powered into a 4-0 lead over her Czech opponent.
That was the exact scoreline Goolagong Cawley had enjoyed when playing in the final against Margaret Court in 1971 before sprinting away to a straight sets victory. Barty, 尽管, was to face a much tougher fight.
Perhaps initially it was too easy for her as she appeared to have the Midas touch in the opening set. Whether it was topspin lobs or topspin backhands, everything seemed to go in. Pliskova, 同时, appeared paralysed with nerves and moved with all the deftness of someone who had just gazed into Medusa’s eyes.
The tension also affected the Czech player’s serve. She had hit more aces than anyone in the women’s singles before the final. But instead of rattling down 115mph howitzers, she started with first serves in the mid 80s.
It did not help either that Barty’s backhand slice was such a lethal weapon. Frequently the 6ft 1in Pliskova responded to the ball scudding over the net and skidding across the grass by netting her reply.
The second set continued to see-saw between the sublime and the ordinary. But while Barty was looking more nervous by the minute she remained just about in control and served for the match at 6-5. Pliskova had other ideas, breaking back before taking the set on a tie-break.
Yet the Czech handed back the momentum by being broken early in the third set. And by the time play was briefly delayed when the crowd spotted the Hollywood actor Tom Cruise, she was 5-2 down and facing mission impossible. So it proved as Barty just about clung on – before jumping in the crowd to celebrate with her team.
Understandably it was her physio Mel Omizzolo, who had somehow got Barty fit and primed only 26 days after she pulled out of the French Open with a hip injury, that the new champion went to first. “Being able to play here at Wimbledon was nothing short of a miracle,” she admitted. “It was a two-month injury.”
Barty, who was a junior Wimbledon champion in 2011, had once felt so much pressure playing tennis she took a career hiatus to play professional cricket for the Brisbane Heat. This victory on grass, which adds to her French Open win in 2019, shows just how much of a true all-rounder she now is.
“It was the most incredible feeling I think I’ve ever experienced on a tennis court,“ 她说. “There was certainly disbelief. I think I’ve worked so hard my whole career to try and achieve my goals and my dreams. To be able to do that today was incredible.”
Incidentally 50 几年前, when Goolagong Cawley won her first Wimbledon, she was asked how she was going to celebrate. “Guess a group of us will go to a ‘disco’ tonight to celebrate,” she replied.
Barty, 然而, pledged to keep it “low key”. “But I am incredibly proud,”她补充道. And so she should be.