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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Ash Barty aiming to emulate mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley with first Wimbledon title

In a dress paying tribute to her mentor, Ash Barty will aim to further extend the similarities to Evonne Goolagong Cawley in becoming the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon since her.

The comparisons between them extend well beyond the scalloped white hem dress Barty has donned all week to their indigenous roots, world No1 status and ability to look well beyond tennis.

In a Wimbledon film on Goolagong Cawley, narrated by Barty, she spoke of enjoying the bigger picture at Wimbledon, taking time to smell the flowers and take in more than just the tennis.

Likewise, Barty has said her tennis will never define her – a view point strengthened by time out of the game when she opted not to play during the first Covid lockdown and a previous hiatus.

But 50 years on from Goolagong Cawley’s first Wimbledon title and 41 years since she won it for a second time, her countrywoman has made no secret of the fact she is “humbled to walk in her footsteps”.

Speaking of her impact after beating Angelique Kerber in a high-quality semi-final yesterday, she said: “I spoke to Evonne prior to the tournament and haven’t been in contact with her since. I’ve just been kind of floating my way through and just kind of enjoying the opportunities I’ve had here this week.

“It’s a really special anniversary for Evonne. I couldn’t be more proud to be in a position to wear an outfit inspired by her. Now to kind of give myself a chance to create some history almost in a way that’s a tribute to her is really exciting. I couldn’t be more rapt to have that opportunity on Saturday.”

Barty, as world No1 and following her dismantling of Kerber, goes into tomorrow’s final as favourite but Karolina Pliskova is showing the mental toughness that has been missing in recent times, powering her way past Aryna Sabalenka despite losing a first set she should have won.

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