Prior to this time , Ashleigh Barty has attracted more attention from her off-court exploits involving cricket bats or golf clubs than anything she has achieved with a racket in her hand.
A phenomenal all-round sportswoman, Barty has represented the Brisbane Heat in Australia’s Big Bash, and won the club championship at her local Brookwater golf course.
But this weekend, after overcoming the 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in a classic semi-final, Barty has a grander goal in her sights. Should she win on Saturday, she will be the first Australian to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish since her heroine and mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.
In analysing her 6-3, 7-6 victory over Kerber, Barty spoke of the light-hearted attitude that had helped her swing fluently and powerfully through the ball especially on the pinpoint serve that delivered eight aces.
“I wanted to go out there and enjoy playing against Angie in such an incredible moment,” said Barty. “And regardless of the result, walk off the court knowing that I enjoyed it.
“I had fun,” she added, “and I gave it a crack. That’s all that I was going to ask of myself today. To be able to bring a level of tennis like I did was kind of the cherry on top.”
Barty has a refreshingly no-nonsense attitude to life, which comes across as very Australian.
There was one moment when she miscued a service return into the metal flank of the umpire’s chair, narrowly missing the head of a crouching ball-boy.
The fans tittered – as they are wont to do at Wimbledon – and Barty laughed along with them, even though she was locked in combat with an implacable opponent.