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Ashleigh Barty’s Dare to Dream Pays Off with 2021 Wimbledon Title

By Thomas Cluck

It took Ashleigh Barty years to say it. To have the belief to verbalize it. To have the confidence to put it out there for and to the world. To have the supportive team to do it. To have the confidence and strength and toughness to face her fears, to face failing to do it, and still say it. Yes, Ash Barty wanted to- more like dreamed of- winning Wimbledon. Yes, she did. 

The cool yet introverted, suave yet sweet Aussie utilized her chill persona, tactful, variety-filled game of slices, volleys, lobs, drop shots, off-pace balls, kick serves, and heavy forehands, and most important of all, her true inner confidence to accomplish that dream she set out to achieve. Ash Barty is the 2021 Wimbledon champion. 

On the golden 50th anniversary of her tennis mentor and beloved Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s first of two titles at the All England Club, Barty finished the job of the woman she seeked to pay homage to, even donning her signature scalloped skirt, holding off the big serves and flat power tennis of Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 to show that even in 2021, with all the power and larger head-size racquets and fancy strings and technology, good ‘ole hands and smarts can still win tennis matches. 

A 25 year-old Brisbane area native, Barty once struggled under the pressure of the game as one of its top talents and prodigies. She left the sport. She purposefully never set high expectations for herself. She didn’t talk herself up even after winning her first major title at the French Open in 2019. She tried to remain quiet and stay under the radar. She hoped her nice and friendly demeanor, even once bringing a baby with her to a particularly tough post-match press conference following a tough loss as the tournament favorite at her home Australian Open a year ago, would help her avoid the glare of the spotlight and criticism that comes with it.

Now though, the world number one and now two-time Grand Slam champion doesn’t need to hide. Barty’s confident enough she could express just how badly she dreamed of winning Wimbledon and lifting that coveted, beautiful Venus Rosewater Dish and not worry she might one day not. She let her tennis do the talking and for the entire fortnight, and particularly in two mightily hard final matches this weekend, it did. That extra gear champions have, that ability to play your best tennis when the intensity and pressure is at its highest in the finals- Barty has it. This is a new Ash Barty. 

World, meet Ash Barty 2.0

Having come out playing impeccable, flawless tennis for the first four games, Barty didn’t drop a single point until the 15th- yes, FIFTEENTH- point of the match. She was blanking Pliskova and on the way to a runaway romp. It wasn’t even close.

Credit the Czech for not being phased and remaining a deer in the headlights. Pliskova dug in and fought as hard as many have ever seen her and made a match of it, pushing Barty to the limits of her game. The 29 year-old has tons to be proud of from this tournament, reestablishing herself amongst the game’s elite once again and suddenly becoming a contender for the final major of the season, the U.S. Open, later this summer. Pliskova found her game once again. Barty just exposed its limits- even at its best. 

Barty recovered remarkably from dropping the second set, a set in which she was four points from this lifelong childhood dream being realized, failing to serve out the match courtesy of a horrible game from her end. She didn’t let the let down last for long.

Doing one of the hardest things in tennis, pushing that boulder up the mountain and coming so close, only to have to do it all over again, Barty just reset, broke early, and rode that lead the entire way to a clean and fairly comprehensive final set performance to get to drop to her knees and soak it all in.

The childhood dream she finally dared to dream out loud had happened. The confidence it took to say it won her it too. 

Ash Barty, Wimbledon Champion. Bravo.