Australian great Evonne Goolagong said Ash Barty’s Wimbledon win on Saturday made her more emotional than her own triumph at the grasscourt major 50 years ago.
Barty was a woman on a mission at Wimbledon this year and emulated Goolagong, with whom she shares indigenous Australian heritage, by beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-7(4) 6-3 in the final.
“Everybody reacts differently when they win Wimbledon for the first time. It didn’t hit me until later, because you turn numb. You’re in shock, just as Ash was,” Goolagong said in a video released by Tennis Australia on Sunday.
“We were so excited. Now I see the other side… my family, how they were when they were watching me win. They were jumping up, crying, screaming… exactly what we were doing.”
Wearing a scalloped-edged outfit in the style of Goolagong’s 1970s kit, Barty said after her win that she hoped she had made her idol proud.
“She certainly did. She made me proud from the first time I saw her,” Goolagong said.
“She must have been 13, playing at the Australian Open. (My husband) Roger and I saw one whole point in which she had all the skills.
“She did the slice, volley, smash, everything… and we both looked at each other and said ‘she’s got it, she’s going to be our next champion.’ Look at her now.
“… I remember not watching tennis until Roger Federer came along, because he had all the skills… just magical. I thought wouldn’t it be nice if a young girl came along who could play like that and along came Ash… she’s never looked back.”
Goolagong said it was “amazing” that Barty claimed her first Grand Slam title at the French Open (2019), the venue of her own maiden major in 1971.
“One of the last messages I sent to Ash was ‘dreams do come true and it’ll come true for you.’ I felt so confident,” Goolagong said.
“I’m so proud of Ash and the way she handles herself. Not just on the court but off the court, too. She’s a great Australian, everybody loves her.
“Ash is like a little sister and part of my family and we treat each other that way… It’s magical when you achieve your dream… I’m sure it’s magical for her.”