Australia gushes over Barty's Wimbledon win

Fellow indigenous star Freeman, tennis great Laver lead tributes to newly-crowned women’s champion


AFP July 11, 2021

LONDON:

Fellow indigenous star Cathy Freeman and Australian tennis great Rod Laver led tributes Sunday to Ashleigh Barty after her breakthrough at Wimbledon, hailing her as inspirational.

The 25-year-old clinched her maiden crown at the All England Club by beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 on Saturday, adding to the French Open title she won in 2019.

Her victory came on the 50th anniversary of her "friend and mentor" Evonne Goolagong Cawley's first triumph at Wimbledon.

She wore a dress inspired by the one Australian Cawley sported in the 1971 final and while the 69-year-old had no immediate reaction, Freeman said Barty had made indigenous people proud.

"Massive pride in our girl!," tweeted Freeman, who famously lit the cauldron at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and then became the first Aboriginal Australian to win an individual gold medal in the 400 metres.

"Congratulations @ashbarty! We are all so very proud of you."

Barty spoke with Cawley prior to The Championships and said she was a role model to her.

"I think she has been iconic in paving a way for young indigenous youth to believe in their dreams and to chase their dream," said the world number one.

"She's done exactly that for me as well. Her legacy off the court is incredible."

Laver, the only player to win all four majors in the same season twice, noted it was "a wonderful follow up to Evonne's win on the 50th anniversary".

"So happy for you @ashbarty, your dream comes true and what a fight. Congratulations on your Wimbledon victory," he added.

Barty, who has Aboriginal heritage on her father's side, will now head to Tokyo for a crack at Olympic gold, where she will be hot favourite, before turning her attention to the US Open.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also paid tribute, calling her triumph "magnificent".

"Inspirational. Congratulations @ashbarty! A great Australian champion. Australia is bursting with pride. A generational achievement," he said.

Even Australian pop royalty Kylie Minogue got in on in the act, simply tweeting: "ASSSSSSSSHHHHBAAAARRRTYYYYYYYY!!!"

Australian media called the down-to-earth Barty a "masterful performer" with the tabloid Sydney Daily Telegraph gushing that "the legacy Ash is creating is truly special".

"Olympic gold and a third slam title is more than achievable in the coming months," it added. "But Ash must also ensure she takes the time to look after herself and her team."

The Australian broadsheet was equally effusive in its praise.

"Ash Barty dared to dream and had the courage and conviction to deliver a famous triumph on the biggest stage in tennis," it said.

"The most worthy of winners. A player universally respected and adored nationwide for her brilliance and sportsmanship."

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