World number one Ashleigh Barty has emulated Australian legend Evonne Goolagong and won Wimbledon for the very first time after putting on a battling display to beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 in a thrilling final on Centre Court.
The Australian raced out of the blocks to give herself a 4-0 lead in the opening set and Pliskova looked as if the occasion may have got to her as she targeted her first Grand Slam title. However, Pliskova battled back in the first set, and carried her good form into the second as she made a real battle of the final.
She fought back having been broken early in the second, but then lost her way again as Barty served for the title. The Czech showed her resilience once again as she forced the set to a tie-break and then incredibly won it against the odds to the delight of the Wimbledon crowd. Given we were starved of Wimbledon action after last year's cancellation, this women’s singles final certainly made up for it - it was an absolute thriller.
In the third set Barty managed to show her class however as she bagged another early break, but this time, she was able to hold off Pliskova, despite some sensational shots from the eighth seed. She nearly missed this year’s Wimbledon with a hip injury this year, so despite the loss, she deserves huge credit after making it further than she ever has before at SW19.
“Thank you to everyone, I enjoyed every minute to play on this court, sorry,” she cried on court after the defeat. The crowd were behind her all the way and gave Pliskova an almighty cheer as she collected her runners-up trophy.
“I never cry, never ... I want to start with Ash, she played an incredible tournament and an incredible match today, it wasn’t easy to close the second set, I was fighting very hard to make it difficult for her, but I think she played very well, so congrats to her and her team.”
But Barty is the 2021 Wimbledon champion and wins on the 50th anniversary of Goolagong’s first win. It has been 41 years since Australia last had a women’s champion at Wimbledon but that long wait has finally come to an end as the finest tennis player on the planet secured the biggest prize of the lot.
It was 1am in Queensland when Barty hit that winning shot but they will party all night Down Under after a terrific display from their golden girl.
“This is incredible. I have to start with Kara - congratulations to you on a fantastic tournament, and to your team. I love testing myself against you, and I’m sure we’ll play in many, many more matches. I genuinely have to thank every single person in this stadium, you have made my dream so special, so thank you so much."
This may have only been her first Wimbledon crown and her second Grand Slam title, but based on this showing, we could get used to seeing Barty lift silverware on a more regular basis over the coming years. Somewhere, the great Goolagong has a ginormous smile upon her face.