TennisBeer. In doing so, Ash Party celebrated her third Grand Slam title, a first in her home country. They don’t come much humbler than the 25-year-old Aussie. However, Barty gave this year’s Melbourne party.
It was fate. In 1978, Chris O’Neill won the Daphne Akhurst Cup after defeating Betsy Nagelsen 6-3, 7-6 in the final. The American later became a coach for Daniel Collins. After 44 years, Ashleigh Barty became the first Australian Open winner since O’Neill by defeating Collins 6-3, 7-6. “It’s unbelievable,” Barty admitted. “Playing at home is special anyway, but to be here as a champ is really exciting.” Her release and celebration after match point, at the Rod Laver Arena blast, was special. “It was surreal,” laughed the number one runner-up in the world. “I didn’t really know what to do or feel. She showed some emotion, which is very unusual for me. But the energy on the court was unimaginable. Realizing the amount of work that my team and I have put into this over the past few years to get to this point made her Really special.”
Make no mistake, Barty goes a long way. Long before Naomi Osaka spoke out about her fears and mental health issues, Australian audiences had already been through a rough patch. At the age of sixteen, Barty won the junior title at Wimbledon and was in three Grand Slam finals in doubles. However, the expectations and pressures they are placed on have become too great for purebred breeds. Barty quit the sport and continued playing cricket for the Brisbane Heat to keep himself busy and recharged. She also excelled in that sport. After two years and numerous conversations with her good friend and husband partner Casey Delacqua, Barty decided to give it a try again. With a different mindset and more perspective, she embarked on the rise that would make her the best player in the world today and perhaps the dominant factor in women’s tennis for years to come. “Casey was very important to me,” Barty said. “She was there from the start, as well as during the tough moments. She meant a lot to me and was a huge part of my life, both on and off the track.”
Besides, Barty is a very ordinary girl – just engaged to Australian golfer Gary Kesick – who regularly sits in the stands at Richmond Football Club. She fills her free time with golf and fishing. On the field he embodies technique, tactics and talent. “No player is more complete right now,” said Victoria Azarenka. “The way she can put the puzzle pieces together and then add them to it is impressive.” In Australia, Barty has become an icon and with her third Grand Slam title – after Roland Garros 2019 and Wimbledon 2021 – interest in this humble world star will only grow. During Saturday’s final, 4.2 million Australians stood in front of the television, 17 per cent of the population. “We are very fortunate to have such a rich history in tennis, with so many Grand Slam champions,” Barty remained vigil. “They have created a platform for us on which we can begin to find our own path. I am now a very small part of that great history. And that is nice.”
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