Wimbledon, England – Long before Ashleigh Barty became the Wimbledon champion, Evonne Goolgong Kavle believed that Barty could be the Wimbledon champion.
“I think it’s possible for him,” Goolagong said in a 2017 interview in Australia. “He has a game that can give so many players a hard time.”
At the time, Barty was still out of the top 10 and was still working back after her 17-month break from tennis to play cricket. But Golgong Kawle, who won Wimbledon singles titles in 1971 and 1980, spoke from experience and from heart.
Barty isn’t just a genius. He is a humble man indeed: down-to-earth in a nation that still values and sees itself in that specialty. Like many Australians, Goolagong Kawle finds him trustworthy, but their connection goes deeper – messages, phone calls, one-on-one conversations, mentorship.
Australia has no shortage of former tennis stars. The Sunburn Nation has been one of the major forces in the sport since the early 20th century and has produced such talents as Rod Laver, Ken Roswell, John Newcomb and Margaret Court.
But Golgong Kawle, an indigenous Australian with a beautiful game, is the former champion whose story is spoken most powerfully to Barty. her father is part of robert citizens, and Barty have embraced that legacy as well as the long-running project of Golgong Kawle to bring tennis and inspiration to Indigenous youth.
On Saturday, their paths converged again as Barty won the Wimbledon singles title on the same patch of grass where Golgong Kawle first won 50 years ago.
“They are connected by culture, and Ash’s victories connect generations,” said Billie Jean King, who lost to Golgong Kavle in the semi-finals in 1971 and was at the Royal Box on Saturday. “It was great that Ashley’s dream came true and extra special to honor Ivonne’s legacy.”
Barty, after beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in the final, overcame a significant hip injury that ruled her out of last month’s French Open and left her at no earlier stage Was barred from playing in the grass court event. Wimbledon. She said her team didn’t tell her how long the quick recovery was.
“He kept a lot of cards near his chest,” she said. “There weren’t too many radiologists in Australia who looked at my injury. In a sense it was a two-month injury, to be able to play here at Wimbledon was nothing short of a miracle.
After missing almost all the 2020 season due to the pandemic, she has returned with full commitment and proved to be a true No. She now has her second major singles title after winning the French Open in 2019.
Goolagong Kavle won for the first time on red clay in Paris, before winning that too a few weeks later at Wimbledon in 1971. Acknowledging his full circle of accomplishments, Barty wept on the court when asked about his mentor. But when I asked him about Goolagong Kawle in the afternoon, his voice was loud and clear.
“Ivonne is a very special person in my life,” Barty said. “I think she has been iconic in paving the way for indigenous youth to believe in their dreams and chase their dreams. He did the exact same thing for me. I think to be able to have my way, to be able to share with her and share some special victories with her, is really incredible. “
There is very little similarity in their game. Women’s tennis has changed dramatically over the 50 years, adding power and speed and becoming a baseline-dominated sport even on grass.
Like most people of his generation, Golgong Kawle served regularly and served a second time. Despite having some excellent volleys on tour, Barty did not serve and volley once at Wimbledon this year. Golgong Kavli was famously light on his feet, but his footwork was compared to the leisurely Barty’s explosive movement and ability to run around his backhand to rip an open stance forehand with heavy topspin. And though Barty hits his backhand drive with two hands, both he and his role model rely heavily on one-handed slice backhands.
It’s a shot that was essential in the Golgong Kawle era when tennis was primarily played on grass courts with low bounce, and Barty has proven it to be a great weapon on any surface.
6-foot-2 Pliskova spent most of the match leaning as low as she wanted to tackle the shot, but she made a match of it. Barty started the final in full force, winning the first 14 points and opening four games while Pliskova struggled to move her legs and swing freely. She admitted that she was coming back from a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Inga Swietec in the final of this year’s Italian Open.
Pliskova was not the only one with such views. There is a special brand of pressure that builds when a major final starts in such a one-sided fashion, there is pressure not to spoil the opportunity for fans and spectators who are watching with high expectations of their own.
“I was thinking about the final in Rome,” Pliskova said. “I thought, ‘No, it’s not possible, it can’t happen again.'”
That didn’t happen, which ultimately eased the blow for a woman who remains the most successful active player without a Grand Slam title.
She cried at the awards ceremony, which is rare for Pliskova, who prefers to reserve post-match tears for locker rooms or hotel rooms. But the disappointment would certainly have been more if she had not recovered from her shaky start.
Barty, who failed to serve the match in the second set, understands the challenge of the mental game very well. After winning the girls’ title at age 15, she failed to progress past the fourth round in her first four appearances at Wimbledon. His ability on the grass was obvious. His results were disappointing.
But defending champion Simona Halep was ruled out of the tournament with a calf injury, giving Barty an honor that would have been reserved for Halep, playing her first women’s singles match on center court.
Call it foreshadowing, just as it has a relationship with Gulagong Kawle.
“I think if I could be half as much as Ivonne, I would be a much, much happier person,” Barty said.
Forty years after Gulgong Kawle’s final victory there, Australia have another Wimbledon women’s singles champion, and it felt like nothing but a coincidence, as Barty was worn by the Pioneer on her first championship run at the All England Club. Wore a dress inspired by Gaya’s dress. .
It was the tournament that Goolagong Kawle most focused on winning, which Australians spoke of with particular reverence because of their layered history with England. But it was the tournament that even Barty, the icon of more multicultural Australia, envisioned, when she closed her eyes and let her imagination run.
“For Australians, there’s such a rich history here,” Barty said. “To tennis players around the world, it seems to me that Wimbledon is where tennis was essentially born. This is where it all started. This is where so many hopes and dreams were born.”
With the singles trophy in hand and struggling to contain himself, Barty walks through the clubhouse after his win. At first she exchanged happiness with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Duke noticed that he could not see the veins.
“Oh no, I did!” Barty said.
Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova waited nearby. The king gave him a fist bump. Navratilova gave him a message.
“Ivonne is so proud,” she said, glancing two thumbs up.