After 41 long years, Australia has another Wimbledon women’s singles finalist to savour, as Ash Barty prepares to take on Karolina Pliskova.
Barty and Pliskova will vie for the Venus Rosewater Dish on Saturday night, with Barty aiming to add her second grand slam singles title to her 2019 French Open trophy.
Barty is the first Australian women’s Wimbledon finalist since her idol and mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley won the title in 1980.
“Being able to play on the final Saturday at Wimbledon is gonna be just the best experience ever!” the good-natured champion said ahead of the match.
If Barty can replicate her blistering semi-final performance in the final, she will become the nation’s third champion in the Open era after Margaret Court and Goolagong Cawley.
If successful, the 25-year-old will also become the fourth junior Wimbledon champion to win the women’s tournament in the Open Era, alongside Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Barty reflected on her journey from a junior to No.1 seed.
“Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning,” she said.
“Ten years ago I came here for the first time as a junior and learned a lot in that week.”
Barty said she had experienced some of her “toughest weeks” at the tournament in 2018 and 2019.
“A lot of the time, your greatest growth comes from your darkest times. That’s why this tournament has been so important to me,” she said.
“I’ve learned so much with all my experiences – the good, bad, everything in between I’ve been able to learn from.
“Just to be able to keep chipping away, keep putting yourself out there, let yourself be vulnerable, just be yourself, knowing that everything that comes with that is an opportunity to learn. That’s been a massive one for us this fortnight.”
Barty’s road to the Wimbledon 2021 final
Barty was forced to produce the performance of her life to defeat former champion Angelique Kerber in the last four.
Living up to her world No.1 billing, the Queenslander reckoned she’d never played such a fine match after prevailing 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in what she called her “ultimate test” on Thursday against the rejuvenated three-time grand slam winner on centre court.
It was the highest quality women’s match in the tournament, with Barty declaring: “This is incredible. This is as good as a tennis match as I’ll ever play.”
“I’m incredibly proud of myself and my team and now we get a chance on Saturday to live out a childhood dream,” she said.
Barty will have to defeat another former world No.1 to win her first Wimbledon title on Saturday night.
Her opponent, the tall, big-serving Czech Pliskova, is in powerful form.
It’s set to be a thriller, with Barty coming into the match five wins and two losses in her seven matches against Pliskova.
Pliskova blitzed 14 aces as she tamed second seed Aryna Sabalenka 5-7 6-4 6-4 in the other power-packed semi-final.
“She has the power and ability to quickly take the match away from you,” acknowledged Barty.