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World No.1 Ash Barty became the first female Australian in 41 years to advance to a Wimbledon final and the ever classy Aussie showed why she is adored after the match.
Barty became the first Aussie woman since Evonne Goolagong Cawley - who won the title in 1971 and 1980 - to make the Wimbledon final after a scintillating 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) win over the German three-time major winner.
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Living up to her World No.1 billing, the Queenslander described the performance as one of the best of her life against a player that she admitted before the match would provide the "ultimate test".
But 2020 and 2021 haven't come without hardship.
Barty missed most of 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic crippled the sporting world.
Since her return to the WTA Tour in 2021, she has won a number of hard-court and clay tournaments.
But, after preparing for a huge French Open push, Barty was forced to retire from Roland Garros due to injury.
Far from dwelling on her losses, Barty has picked herself up and is looking at making history if she win the Wimbledon final.
While the Australian deserved the attention of the tennis world after her amazing win over Kerber, Barty was gracious in victory and swiftly directed the spotlight to those closest to her.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 8, 2021
“I’m excited I could repay them the favour in a way, of giving us an opportunity as a collective, as a whole, to do something pretty special this week," Barty said after her victory.
The World No.1 often refers to her accomplishments as 'we', instead of 'I', which has enamoured fans around the world.
After winning the Miami Open this year, Barty praised her team and family when she responded to a question about what she enjoys on the tour.
"The best part of my life is without a doubt my family and my team," Barty said, earlier this year.
Ash Barty soaks in historic Wimbledon moment
Barty soaked in the moment during her post-match interview on Centre Court, as she attempts to become the first woman to be ranked World No.1 and win Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016.
"Being able to play on the final Saturday here at Wimbledon is gonna be just the best experience ever!" Barty said afterwards.
It was the highest quality women's match in the tournament, with Barty declaring to Centre Court: "This is incredible. This is as good as a tennis match as I'll ever play."
"I'm incredibly proud of myself and my team and now we get a chance on Saturday to live out a childhood dream."
— Russell Bennett (@rgbennett) July 8, 2021
If you don't know Ash Barty's backstory, it's worth a look. And she's a great model, always humble, fun, kind to her opponent, and gives credit to all those around her. #HowToBeGracious and still win. She knows who she is and that simple fact offers a competitive advantage. https://t.co/BhzE0uVlEe
— Maureen Electa Monte (@maureenemonte) July 8, 2021
Gotta love Ash Barty. Such a likeable player and person! WTA need more players like her who are not only talented, but also very humble and portay good sportsmanship.
You live up to your world no. 1 billing, ma’am @ashbarty 👏 https://t.co/zuEyiVDpJ6
— Aisha. (@aishha17_) July 8, 2021
Ash Barty comes across as such a humble down to earth young woman, can’t wait to see what’s in store for the final with two first timers in this years final. Routing for Sabalenka now in second semi final 👍🏻👍🏻 #wimbledon
— Fiona Lapham (@FiLapham88) July 8, 2021
Absolute class! Ash Barty is so humble, so honest, a gracious winner and a superb tennis player. So proud of such a great Aussie!
— Graham Alexander (@GrahamAlexand19) July 8, 2021
Ash Barty hits top form at Wimbledon
Barty really did have to produce some supreme tennis to fight back from 5-2 down in the second set and prevail after playing an immaculate tiebreak to move into her second grand slam final after one hour 27 minutes.
The only time she'd looked nervous was at the very start, opening up with a double fault, but once she'd saved a couple of break points, she was quickly into a rhythmic stride.
Having dictated in the opening set, Barty suddenly found herself on the retreat at the start of the second as Kerber reprised some of the glorious tennis that had blown Serena Williams away in the final three years ago as she broke to race to a 3-0 lead.
"Angie is an incredible competitor. She brought out the best in me," reckoned Barty, who produced three exceptional games when 5-2 down.
"Being able to challenge myself against a champion like her, it was just nice to play a really good level throughout the whole match.
"I fought and scrapped when I had to, controlled the ball when I had to. That match was a great level, the best level I've played in quite some time."
Serving for the set, Kerber faltered, with Barty cashing in to earn a break to love with a scintillating cross-court forehand.
Then she took control, winning 10 straight points as she powered into a 6-0 lead in the tiebreak, before finishing it off.
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