Stars align for Barty at Wimbledon

The Australian lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish following a pulsating Wimbledon final to add to her RG19 triumph.

 - Alex Sharp

Fate, destiny, meant to be, call it what you want.

When Ashleigh Barty lifted the Suzanne-Lenglen Cup at Roland-Garros 2019, there was a unanimous feeling that the Australian would be hailed a major champion again further down the road.

1971 to 2021, junior Wimbledon champion a decade ago, the throwbacks were in Barty’s corner too.

In the past fortnight the world No.1 has defied injury, opened up play on Centre Court, faced the heroic cancer survivor Carla Suarez Navarro, halted Roland-Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova, taken on compatriot Ajla Tomljanovic and prevailed past three-time major winner Angelique Kerber.

Barty hailed winning Wimbledon as her “dream” and it was realised in captivating fashion 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 against the valiant Karolina Pliskova on Saturday.

Match point finished, the 15,000 strong crowd rose in applause, the 25-year-old had to crouch towards the court to take in the magnitude of the moment.

I'm a firm believer in everything happens for a reason, the good moments and the tough moments. I think being able to learn from both of them equally is really important as a person, especially as an athlete being able to understand that there are always learnings from every match,” reflected the 25-year-old at the All England Club.

"I've grown as a person"

I've had massive, massive amounts of growth, even the last fortnight I think I've grown as a person. Certainly been able to use my experience as a tennis player to get me through some tough matches this week. I felt like I was able to get better and better with each match and trust myself more and more each and every time I stood out on the court.

Barty claimed the first 14 points in a commanding beginning, before Pliskova joined the party to force a third set crescendo on Centre Court.

It was the most incredible feeling I think I've ever experienced on a tennis court. There was certainly disbelief,” added the Queenslander. “I think I've worked so hard my whole career with my team and with people that mean the most to me to try and achieve my goals and my dreams. To be able to do that today was incredible.”

Having been handed the trophy, Barty struggled to hold back the tears when asked about her idol, confidant and mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley. “I hope I made her proud,” said the emotional 25-year-old, before turning away from the on-court microphone.

The fellow indigenous Australian icon is celebrating her 50th anniversary of a first triumph at SW19, which Barty honoured through detailing in her dress similar to that of Goolagong Cawley in 1971.

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,” stated the now two-time Grand Slam champion.

"Evonne is a very special person in my life"

I think being able to share that with her and share some pretty special victories now with her, to be able to create my own path is really incredible, really exciting.

She's just been an icon for years and years, not just on the tennis court. Her legacy off the court is incredible. I think if I could be half the person that Evonne is, I'd be a very, very happy person.

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.”

Rewind to Roland-Garros last month and Barty was forced to retire from her second round encounter with a left hip complaint. A title charge at Wimbledon was immediately under threat too.

Just even chatting to my team now, once we've come off the court, they kept a lot of cards close to their chest and didn't tell me a lot of the odds. There weren't too many radiologists in Australia who had seen my injury. In a sense, it was a two-month injury. Being able to be able to play here at Wimbledon was nothing short of a miracle,” admitted the world No.1

It's funny, sometimes the stars align, you can think positively, you can plan, and sometimes the stars do align, you can chase after your dreams.”

First Olympics is coming

Having recovered from injury and charged to Wimbledon glory, Barty isn’t heading back home, but is remaining on the road with the Olympics and US Open fast approaching.

She feels more than ready for that challenge.

I think the fact that we were physically able to get through the past fortnight has been exceptional. I had the most incredible team of people around me. I put full trust in them, in knowing that they do everything absolutely possible to give myself trust in my body,” stated the Australian, who will compete in her first Olympics in Tokyo.

I certainly have no fears about my fitness. Of course, some things will happen. That's normal. That's natural. That's life of being an athlete. But I know that I've got the very best team around me to prepare me in a way as best as we can.