World No.1 Ngarigo woman Ash Barty has defeated Carla Suárez Navarro 6-1 6-7 (1) 6-1 after a one hour and 43 minute battle at Wimbledon.
Playing on grass for the first time in two years, the second set got away from Barty but she regained control by winning the first 13 points and five games in the third set.
It was an emotional exit for Suárez Navarro, appearing in her second tournament since announcing her recovery from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
A teary-eyed Barty stood to applaud her 32-year-old opponent, who is retiring from tennis.
“It was just incredible to be able to share the court with Carla, to be able to share this experience with her after her incredible career,” Barty said.
“She’s a genuine champion and she’s going to be very sorely missed.”
Your class and courage will forever be permanent. Congratulations Carla ✨— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) June 29, 2021
A privilege sharing this moment with you 💚💜 pic.twitter.com/R3N9hCtBm8
A nod to a fellow tennis legend, Barty took the court in a dress inspired by Evonne Goolagong Cawley‘s dress worn during her first Wimbledon triumph.
“I think I’m exceptionally proud to be able to call [Goolagong Cawley] a friend and a mentor, to be able to share heritage. For me to be able to pay tribute to that on a really special anniversary is something that I’ll never forget,” Barty told reporters at Wimbledon.
Barty said she had checked with Goolagong Cawley before agreeing to wear the Fila dress for the 50th anniversary of her win.
“It’s a really special anniversary for a lot of Australians, but for Indigenous Australians in particular I think this is a really special one.”
“Before we had put in the process of creating my version of her iconic dress, I wanted to make sure she was okay,” Barty said.
“I think for me, that made me feel a lot more comfortable knowing her favourite dress, probably her most iconic dress, is something that inspired me and inspired our generation of Indigenous youth.
“I hope that my version of it, my outfit, can do the same for the next generation of Indigenous youth coming forward.”
Goolagong won her Wimbledon Grand Slam title in 1971 where she defeated fellow Aussie Margaret Court 6-4 6-1 to claim her second consecutive Grand Slam title at the age of just 19.
The Wiradjuri woman finished her incredible career with 14 Grand Slam titles including seven singles, six doubles and one mixed doubles.
Barty will face 22-year-old Russian Anna Blinkova on Thursday, who is currently ranked 89th.
By Teisha Cloos