Wimbledon: Barty cries tears of joy as she emulates Goolagong with Centre Court triumph

By Sports Desk July 10, 2021

The wobbles of Wimbledon struck Karolina Pliskova and Ash Barty in a women's final that delivered devilish drama and a marvellously charismatic new champion.

Barty's big moment at the All England Club has finally arrived, the world number one making good on the aim she publicly set herself by landing the second grand slam of a career that could yield many more.

As she joyfully paraded the Venus Rosewater Dish around Centre Court, it hardly mattered that the 25-year-old had staggered across the winning line.

When she raced up to the players' box to hug coach Craig Tyzzer and boyfriend Garry Kissick, they were not asking why she had not got the job done in straight sets.

When Barty's thoughts turned to her hero Evonne Goolagong, and tears began to flow, all that mattered to the Queenslander was that she had achieved her tennis destiny.

But what a curious contest this was, a first women's Wimbledon singles final to go to a third set since 2012, yet it would take a real optimist – Barty, for instance – to define it as a classic.

At least it was a contest. That had been in doubt when Pliskova lost the opening 14 points. It was 4-0 in just 12 minutes, at which stage memories of the Czech's 6-0 6-0 drubbing by Iga Swiatek in May's Rome final came to mind.

Pliskova did not fire a single winner in the first six games. Barty surged a set and 3-1 ahead in 45 minutes, a 13th straight-sets women's final in the last 14 Wimbledon championships seemingly inevitable.

The pre-match favourite's nerve was holding, or so it seemed, but when Pliskova held serve to trail only 3-2 the players had split the last 10 games, and that suggested a pivot in the flow of the contest was still possible.

Rudyard Kipling's encouragement to keep your head while others might be losing theirs is engrained in Wimbledon tradition, yet doing so on the big stage is easier prescribed than achieved.

This title match was painfully short on consistent quality, with more unforced errors than winners overall (Barty: 30/29, Pliskova: 27/32) as the pressure of the occasion affected the two first-time finalists. Movie star Tom Cruise was in the crowd, and a plot twist was coming.

A chant of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie" went up at 5-5 in the second set, and Pliskova went on to drop serve from 40-love, missing a straightforward enough backhand volley at the net when she had the chance to close out the game.

Serving for the title, Barty played her worst tennis of the match, and when Pliskova powered through the tie-break those still awake Down Under must have been suddenly fearing the worst.

Serving first in the third set, Barty took a look down the other end and must have been thinking: "What are you still doing here?"

But Barty swiftly established a break, Pliskova volleying lamentably into the net from close range, and this time the Aussie nerve held.

She fired an ace to bring up a first match point and the title was hers when Pliskova drove a backhand into the net, her 32nd unforced error of the match.

Having held serve in 57 of her 61 service games up to the final, Pliskova was broken six times.

Barty won the girls' Wimbledon tournament in 2011 and 10 years later has achieved a rare double by adding the women's title, joining Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo as the only players to do so in the Open Era.

She has joined Margaret Court and Goolagong in becoming a women's champion for Australia at the All England Club, and Barty holds the latter in the highest regard.

They share an indigenous background, and 50 years after Goolagong landed the first of her two Wimbledon titles, Barty did just enough to fend off Pliskova and add her own name to the board of champions.

Barty called it "an exceptional match right from the start", and that verdict can probably be put down to the adrenaline of being a newly crowned champion.

She also spoke of having managed precious little sleep ahead of the match, which might explain some of the erratic side of her performance.

And then the BBC's Sue Barker asked her about Goolagong.

"I hope I made Evonne proud," Barty said, the first tears beginning to stream.

Barty has left home to pursue this dream, having chosen to spend almost all of 2020 back in Greater Springfield, near Brisbane, away from the world's worst COVID-19 crises.

Her family have remained in Australia, and Barty has made the trip worth it with this triumph.

"I know they're at home watching. I miss them, I love them," Barty said. "I can't wait to get home to them in a few months' time and really celebrate."

She suggested celebrations in her bubble would be "low key". The Barty party will have to wait.

Related items

  • Sabalenka extends first-round streak with fine start at French Open Sabalenka extends first-round streak with fine start at French Open

    Second seed Aryna Sabalenka emphatically progressed to the second round of the French Open with victory over Erika Andreeva on Tuesday.

    Australian Open champion Sabalenka won 6-1 6-2 in just 68 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier in the first career meeting between the two players.

    There were 27 winners from Sabalenka and just nine from Andreeva, who only showed the briefest resistance with a sole break early in the second set.

    But strong favourite Sabalenka, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros last year, made an instant response by breaking back, ultimately winning five of the final six games to ruthlessly close out the victory.

    She will play a qualifier – either Irene Burillo Escorihuela or Moyuka Uchijima – in the next round of the competition.

    Data Debrief: Sabalenka extends first-round streak

    Sabalenka has now won each of her last 15 first-round matches at grand slam tournaments, not suffering defeat at the first hurdle since a clash against Carla Suarez Navarro at the Australian Open in January 2020. 

    She has also won six R1 matches in a row at the French Open, not suffering an opening-round loss in Paris since the 2018 edition.

    Sabalenka will continue her bid to become the first female player to win both the Australian Open and Roland Garros in a calendar year since Serena Williams in 2015. Her record on clay this season is now improved to a healthy 12-3.

    Andreeva, meanwhile, was always likely to find the going tough and won just eight of her 23 points on first serve as she was broken five times across the contest. The 19-year-old is yet to reach a grand slam second round.

  • Rybakina races into second round at French Open Rybakina races into second round at French Open

    Elena Rybakina began her French Open campaign with a dominant 6-2 6-3 win over Greet Minnen on Tuesday, teeing up a second-round clash with Arantxa Rus or Angelique Kerber.

    Having been forced to withdraw from the Italian Open due to illness earlier this month, Rybakina made a rusty start as she dropped serve in the opening game.

    However, she quickly recovered her composure to produce a powerful performance, firing off 36 winners and forcing 10 break points – four of which were converted.

    Moving well throughout and excelling at the net, Rybakina converted her second match point after 74 minutes on court, ensuring smooth progress to the second round. 

    Data Debrief: Rybakina ready to challenge Swiatek

    Rybakina has been tipped to rival world number one Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros this year, and she now boasts a 9-1 record on clay for 2024.

    Her win ratio on the surface this season stands at 90 per cent, with only Swiatek (93.8 per cent, 15-1) faring better on the WTA Tour.

  • Djokovic decline began some time ago, claims Simon Djokovic decline began some time ago, claims Simon

    Novak Djokovic remains capable of enjoying a successful 2024 but has been declining for some time, believes former world number six Gilles Simon.

    Djokovic won three grand slam singles titles last year to take his overall tally to 24, equalling Margaret Court's overall record among male and female players.

    However, he has been far from his best in 2024, going out to eventual winner Jannik Sinner in the Australian Open semi-finals and failing to capture a single ATP Tour title.

    Djokovic was beaten by Tomas Machac in the last four at the Geneva Open last week and said on Monday he was "not expecting" to retain his French Open crown.

    He begins his Roland-Garros campaign against Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Tuesday.

    Speaking to Stats Perform at the Roland-Garros eSeries by Renault tournament, Simon feels Djokovic's downturn is only natural, given he turned 37 earlier this month.

    Simon said: "You are in a very short media window and it is amazing how things change. Last year when he lost [the Wimbledon final to Carlos Alcaraz], I said that for me, he had one year left.

    "It's more a question of age, there's a break around 37 or 38, when it gets tough. He was playing well last year, he won three grand slams, but I've seen him drop for a while now.

    "For me, there were already signs on the court that he's dropping, but he was and still is completely capable of having a great 2024 season. 

    "I have more doubts about the 2025 season, and I already had some last year, above all linked to the physical aspect."

    Despite a difficult few months, Simon has no doubt that Djokovic – who is 14-5 for 2024 – can still put himself in contention for silverware. 

    "Now he's in a slump, so everyone wants to bury him, but he's still capable of playing very well," he continued. 

    "Last year it was [seen as] shameful to say that he was starting to drop, with people saying, 'You're talking rubbish, he's won three grand slams'.

    "If I say now that he's playing well, they'll tell me he's finished, that he lost again in Geneva. Take it easy! We're not going to bury him. Nobody's going to bury Novak and he is still capable of great things.

    "On the other hand, he's like everyone else. He's reaching an age where players like [Rafael] Nadal before him or like [Roger] Federer before him have dropped."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.