Wimbledon 2021: Ashleigh Barty: "It's a miracle I even played ... the stars aligned for me"

New Wimbledon champ Ashleigh Barty says it was a “miracle” she even played in the championships after injury forced her to quit the previous Grand Slam.

Barty celebrates her first Wimbledon triumph

The Australian had to retire from the second round of the French Open in May over an issue with her left hip. “Even just chatting to my team now, it’s obvious they kept a lot of cards close to their chests,” she said after lifting the trophy on Centre Court.

“They didn’t tell me a lot of the odds. There weren’t too many radiologists in Australia who had seen my injury. Being able to play here at Wimbledon was incredible, nothing short of a miracle. I mean, you can chase your dream but sometimes the stars just align.”

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Barty used the phrase again when describing her joy at winning on the 50th anniversary of her idol and fellow indigenous Aussie Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s first triumph at the tournament. “Evonne is a very special person in my life. She’s been iconic in paving a way for young indigenous youth to believe in their dreams and to chase them - and she's done exactly that for me. Knowing she’s only ever a phonecall away has been really, really cool.

“She’s been an icon for years and years, not just on the tennis court. Her legacy off it is incredible. I think if I could be half the person she is I’d be very very happy.”

Barty paid tribute to Karolina Pliskova and told her to keep believing she could win a Slam. “She’s an exceptional competitor. A lot of time I feel like she’s underestimated but she wants it extremely badly. I know that a Slam for her is not far away.”

Pliskova lost the first 14 points. “It was a horrible start,” she admitted. “That’s why I’m proud of how I found a way back. Now I’m going to try to come back stronger. I want to win a Slam and there’s going to be next chances.”

Pliskova cried in defeat: “Not the plan. In the locker room, okay, not on the court. But the people, they cheered me so much. Too many emotions … ”

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