Ashleigh Barty lands Wimbledon title with three-set win over Karolina Pliskova

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Ashleigh Barty overcame her own nerves and opponent Karolina Pliskova to end Australia’s four-decade long wait for a Wimbledon women’s singles champion.

With both women playing in their first final at the All England Club, it was no surprise there was tension on both sides of the court, but Centre Court was treated to a first three-set final since 2012, which ended with the world number one winning a second grand slam title.

Barty’s 6-3 6-7 (4) 6-3 victory saw her emulate friend and mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley 50 years on from her first Wimbledon title while wearing an outfit inspired by that moment.

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In truth, Barty has looked like a Wimbledon champion waiting ever since winning the junior title here a decade ago aged just 15.

A hiatus during which she stepped away from the game and tried her hand at professional cricket potentially delayed her breakthrough at SW19, but there is no doubt Barty is a fitting champion.

Pliskova played her first grand slam final at the US Open back in 2016, when she was the name on most people’s lips as the next likely champion, but this run came just when it seemed her chance might have gone.

She played arguably the best match of her career against Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals but appeared completely overcome by nerves, losing the first 14 points of the match.

The crowd – which included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Hollywood royalty in Tom Cruise and Britain’s newest tennis star Emma Raducanu – let out a huge cheer of relief when the Czech finally got on the board, avoiding what would have been an unthinkable golden set.

Tom Cruise was among the spectators on Centre Court
Tom Cruise was among the spectators on Centre Court (AELTC/Ben Solomon).

Barty’s blistering start saw her race into a 4-0 lead.

Czech Pliskova finally got on the board with a break to love to settle some nerves, but Barty clinched the opening set 6-3 in just 28 minutes.

Back-to-back double faults from Pliskova gave Barty a break for 2-1 at the start of the second set.

But the world number 13 hit back with a scorching forehand pass to bring up break point and level the set.

Barty came from 40-0 down to break in the 11th game, but nerves got the better of her as she served for the match, allowing Pliskova to force a tie-break.

And Pliskova delighted the crowd by taking the breaker 7-4 and levelling the match.

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After digging herself out one hole, Pliskova dived into another with a double fault and a volley into the net, handing Barty the break in the decider.

This time she had run out of lives, Barty saving a break point before going on to wrap up victory.

Following the well-worn tradition started by fellow Australian Pat Cash in 1987, an emotional Barty climbed into the stands to hug her team, including coach Craig Tyzzer.

The trophies were presented by the Duchess of Cambridge, who was attending the match after completing a period of self-isolation.

Barty said: “I have to thank everyone in this stadium, you have made my dream so special.

“At the start of the third set I just told myself to keep fighting. Karo is an exceptional player but I’m really proud of how I managed to reset. Match point? I can’t remember it!

“It took me a long time to dare to dream about winning this tournament. It’s better than I ever could have imagined. I hope I made Evonne proud!”

Pliskova said: “Ash played an incredible match and an incredible tournament. She played very well, congrats to her and her team.”

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