“The most incredible feeling” – Ashleigh Barty savours victory as she joins Goolagong on Wimbledon’s honour roll

After realising a lifelong dream, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty soaks up the moment and reflects on the meaning of her accomplishment.

Ashleigh Barty, Wimbledon 2021

Ashleigh Barty is normally a stoic figure that keeps her emotions locked up where most of the public can’t see, but on Saturday after capturing her maiden Wimbledon title the floodgates opened early and often, the 25-year-old Australian overwhelmed and in disbelief as she put the finishing touches on a crowning achievement and saw her name etched on Wimbledon’s wall of honour.

“The most incredible feeling”

Barty has made no secret about her desire to win Wimbledon, and the experience of coming through a difficult fortnight and lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish has clearly moved her deeply.

“It was the most incredible feeling I think I’ve ever experienced on a tennis court,” Barty said. “There was certainly disbelief. 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.”

Australians have a long history on Wimbledon’s grass, from Rod Laver to Goolagong, from Lew Hoad to Margaret Court, from Pat Cash to Lleyton Hewitt, the nation has always held Wimbledon in the highest regard. Barty is thrilled to be a part of that deep tradition of Australian winners now, as she becomes the first Aussie to win the women’s singles title at SW19 since Goolagong in 1980.

“I think for Australians, there is such a rich history here at Wimbledon,” she said. “For tennis players all over the globe, I feel like Wimbledon is where tennis was born essentially. This is where it all started. This is where so many hopes and dreams were kind of born.

“I think being able to understand that as I played here and played here as a junior, was able to experience that incredible week, and as I’ve said before, some of my toughest moments have come at Wimbledon. Now some of my most incredible moments have come here as well. I think it’s just an iconic venue. It’s an amazing club. To be able to learn so much from this place, I think I’m a very lucky girl.”

Barty on Goolagong: She’s an icon

50 years after her mentor and inspiration Evonne Goolagong first claimed the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles title, Barty honoured her pioneering spirit by wearing a dress cut in tribute to the one Goolagong wore in 1971. Goolagong sported the iconic kit as she powered past Margaret Court on Centre Court to claim a meaningful victory, both for Australia and for the indigenous people of Australia.

Fast forward 50 years and Barty, of indigenous descent herself, was there to pay it forward. The full-circle character of her shining moment was not lost on her.

“Evonne is a very special person in my life,” she said. “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 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.”

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