Newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty said if she could be “half the person” her fellow indigenous Australian and two-time Wimbledon victor Evonne Goolagong Cawley is she would be “very happy.”

Barty overcame a few wobbles – including being broken when serving for the match in the second set – to beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 and spark a feeling she said she had never experienced on a tennis court before.

The 25-year-old’s victory is extra special to her as it came on the 50th anniversary of her “friend and mentor” Cawley’s first win at the All England Club.

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“The stars aligned for me over the past fortnight,” said Barty. “That it happened to fall on the 50th anniversary of Evonne’s first title here is absolutely incredible.”

Barty – who won the junior title at Wimbledon in 2011 – said it was a “miracle” she had been able to play at all after she learned from her team post match how serious the hip injury that forced her to retire from last month’s French Open had been.

However, it was Cawley who dominated her thoughts – she had shed a tear when the now 69-year-old was mentioned in the immediate aftermath of her victory – and indeed her match kit.

She had had a dress specially designed as a tribute to Cawley’s iconic scallop dress she wore in the 1971 final.

“Evonne is a very special person in my life,” said Barty. “I think she has been iconic in paving a way for young indigenous youth to believe in their dreams and to chase their dream.

“She’s done exactly that for me as well. 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.”

Barty spoke with Cawley prior to The Championships and said having her at the other end of the phone if she ever has doubts is a great consolation.

“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,” said Barty.


‘Hopes and dreams’

Barty is a master at keeping her emotions hidden on court, a fist pump from time to time or a raised thumb the extent of them, but once she was off court on Saturday she broke down.

Whether it was the enormity of her achievement – she added it to the 2019 French Open title – the thoughts about Cawley or that her team had told her how close a run thing it had been to get her fit she buried her head in boyfriend Gary Kissick’s shoulder.

“They (the team) kept a lot of cards close to their chest and didn’t tell me a lot of the odds, didn’t tell me a lot of the I suppose information that they’d got from other specialists,” she said.

“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.”

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Barty had said when she beat 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in the semi-final she had fulfilled a childhood dream in getting into the Wimbledon final.

“I think it was,” she said after Saturday’s win. “I feel like Wimbledon is where tennis was born essentially. This is where so many hopes and dreams were kind of born.”

Barty paid handsome compliments to Pliskova.

“I’ve just tried to live by my values that my parents instilled in me,” she said. “I mean, it’s more important to be a good person than a good tennis player.

“Being able to learn from my parents and my siblings, my family, was a massive part of my upbringing. I was just lucky to have an opportunity to learn how to play the game of tennis.”

Inputs from AFP