Tennis

Ashleigh Barty WINS Wimbledon title after three-set victory over Karolina Pliskova

World No 1 Ashleigh Barty storms to her first Wimbledon title after three-set battle with Karolina Pliskova and becomes first Australian to win at SW19 in 19 years

At a Wimbledon where the tears have been as plentiful as the rain, Ash Barty struggled to hold them back when asked about Evonne Goolagong.

‘I hope I made Evonne proud,’ said the world No1, gulping back the emotion after emulating her inspiration with Saturday’s triumph on the Centre Court.

With a strangely undulating 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova she had repeated the first win, 50 years ago, of an Australian sporting legend with whom she shares aboriginal heritage.

Ashleigh Barty won Wimbledon with a three-set 6-3 6-7 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova

‘Evonne is a very special person in my life,’ she said. ‘She has been iconic in paving a way for young indigenous youth to believe in their dreams and to chase their dreams. The stars aligned for me this past fortnight.’

When match point was all over she reenacted another ritual with Australian connections. Pat Cash in 1987 was the first to climb up towards the player box to celebrate with his team and fans and if it was good enough for him it was going to be good enough for the latest champion from Down Under.

The vast southern continent with such a deep tennis tradition had not produced a Wimbledon singles champion of either sex since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002, but now it has another — and this should not be her last.

The top seed produced a super display to cement her status as the best women’s player 

Barty became Australia’s first singles champion of either sex since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002

Barty became Australia’s first singles champion of either sex since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002

So few of the top women are innately comfortable on grass that it would be no surprise if she manages to repeat this. Barty said afterwards that she endured a sleepless night thinking of what was ahead of her, effectively the task of confirming that she is the world’s best player.

Having sat out the tour for so much of the pandemic, she needed this to show that her French Open win two years ago was not the kind of isolated victory that the women’s game has seen too much of in the last five years.

The WTA Tour also needed a highly competitive Wimbledon final after so many uneven affairs in the past 15 years. Ultimately that is what it got. With the Centre Court full and figures in the crowd such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the event’s breakout star Emma Raducanu and actor Tom Cruise, it felt like all the pageantry was back in its usual working order.

The women's final was played out in front of a full Centre Court with Tom Cruise present

The women’s final was played out in front of a full Centre Court with Tom Cruise present

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the latter returning from quarantine, were also present

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the latter returning from quarantine, were also present

For Barty it was the culmination of several months’ work on the road after her long hibernation at home. She will not be back in Australia for many more weeks yet and thanked her team for sticking with her on the journey all this time.

When reunited with her boyfriend and hitting partner Garry Kissick, resplendent in his Liverpool FC cap, shortly afterwards up in the All England Club corridors, the tears came again. The match could hardly have begun in a way more likely to settle her nerves. She won the first 14 points and was more than half way to a ‘Golden Set’ when Pliskova finally got on the scoreboard.

Her problem was that Barty always had a sufficient box of tricks to blunt her serve and make life awkward in the rallies. Barty served for the set at 6-5 in the second after breaking from 0-40, but was then overcome with nerves. The tiebreak contained the point of the match featuring a lucky netcord for Pliskova and for only the second time since 2006 a women’s final here went into a decider. A break came at 2-0 and it was edgy from there but Barty held on. 

Barty began strong and broke Pliskova twice in the Czech's first two service games

Australian Barty began strong and broke Pliskova twice in the Czech’s first two service games

Pliskova put in a great fight to win the second set via a tiebreak despite falling a break behind

Pliskova put in a great fight to win the second set via a tiebreak despite falling a break behind

Barty and Pliskova put on an excellent show of top quality tennis to end the women’s draw

Sportsmail’s SAM BLITZ was on the live blog for coverage of the women’s Wimbledon final


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