Australian great Evonne Goolagong said Ash Barty’s Wimbledon win on Saturday made her more emotional than her own triumph at the grasscourt major 50 years ago.
Barty has been a woman on a mission this year at the All England Club and emulated trailblazer Goolagong, with whom she shares indigenous Australian heritage, by defeating Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 in a nervy final on Centre Court.
“I’d never really watched myself play for years until I showed some kids from our national indigenous camp a film of me playing. It was more emotional for me watching Ash,” Goolagong said in a video released by Tennis Australia on Sunday.
“Everybody reacts differently when they win Wimbledon for the first time. It didn’t hit me ’til later on, because you turn numb. You’re in shock, just as Ash was at the end.
“We were so excited. Now I see the other side of it… my family, how they were when they were watching me win. They were jumping up, crying, screaming… exactly what we were doing.”
Wearing a scalloped-edged outfit in the style of Goolagong’s 1970s kit throughout the tournament, Barty said after her triumph that she hoped she had made her idol proud.
“She certainly did. She made me proud from the first time I saw her,” Goolagong said.
“She must have been about 13, playing at the Australian Open. [My husband] Roger and I watched a bit and we saw one whole point in which she had all the skills.
“She did the slice, the volley, the smash, everything… and we both looked at each other and said ‘she’s got it, she’s going to be our next champion.’ Look at her now.”
Goolagong said it was “amazing” that Barty claimed her first Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2019, the venue of her own maiden major in 1971.
“I’m so proud of Ash and the way she handles herself. Not just on the court but off the court, too. She’s a great Australian, everybody loves her,’ Goolagong said.
“Ash to me is like a little sister and part of my family and we treat each other that way… It’s magical when you achieve your dream… I’m sure it’s magical for her.”