Ash Barty is already an Australian national treasure but is continuing his own slice of history in Melbourne on Saturday.
The world number one fought her way to the final without dropping a set, with American Danielle Collins waiting for her at the Rod Laver Arena.
Australia have been waiting for the women’s finalist since Wendy Turnbull lost in the 1980 final, and they hope to follow in the footsteps of greats like Evonne Goolagong and Margaret Court, who dominated in the 1960s and 1980s.
Goolagong has particularly inspired Barty over the years and it will be a proud moment for Indigenous Australians across the country.
Barty has Ngarigo ancestry on her father’s side and she regularly speaks about her heritage and what it means to her.
At the Australian Open, she said, “I’m a very, very proud indigenous woman. I love my heritage. This is what connects me to all of you here today. It is what connects me to the earth.
On Goolagong, she added: “We are connected by our heritage and she has paved the way for so many young Indigenous people, both in her career and in her work off the pitch.”
Barty is already a two-time Grand Slam winner, winning the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last year, but you get the feeling that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what she can achieve .
The 25-year-old is capable of dominating any player in the world on the pitch and her fun personality makes her a popular figure, not just in Australia but around the world.
Barty was a junior Wimbledon champion who turned professional shortly after her 14th birthday and there were clearly big things to look forward to in her career.
But while her career was still in its infancy, she decided to take a break from tennis in 2014 and took up professional cricket.
“It was too much too fast for me because I’ve been traveling since a young age,” Barty later admitted. “I wanted to experience the life of a normal teenager and have normal experiences.”
Although she has no competitive cricket experience, she has shown what an incredibly talented sportswoman she is.
She played in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat and impressed in several games for the team.
Just to give you an idea of her ridiculous athletic talent, she also has a 3.9 golf handicap.
In 2016, the lure of tennis brought her back and she returned to the WTA Tour and quickly started to rise through the ranks.
She won the US Open in doubles in 2018, before winning her first Grand Slam the following year before COVID-19 hit and derailed things.
The world no.
She made her comeback in 2021 to win Wimbledon as she made up for the time she had missed.
Barty takes no prisoners on the pitch, happily dispatching opponents 6-0, 6-0 if the occasion calls for it.
But his behavior off the field is the opposite. She shares a laugh and a joke in her interviews, as she is regularly seen playing cricket even though there are minutes left before making it to the Grand Slam semi-finals.
Chris O’Neil was the last Australian to win the Grand Slam in 1978, while Turnbull lost the final in 1980.
There was more misery in the men’s finals with Pat Cash losing back-to-back finals in 1987 and 1988, while Lleyton Hewitt was beaten by Marat Saffin in 2005.
There’s a lot of pressure on Barty, but she was taking it all in stride after winning her semi-final in record time.
“It’s unreal, it’s unbelievable,” said the relaxed Queenslander. “I love this tournament. And being in the final on your home Grand Slam weekend is what a lot of Australian players dream of.
“I will absolutely embrace everything. You have to. It’s funny. It’s great to play on the business side of your home slam. I’m not going to lie about this. It’s incredible.
“I can’t wait to go there with a huge smile on my face and enjoy it. Am I ready? Absolutely, let’s do it.
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