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Wimbledon 2021: Ex-cricketer Ashleigh clinches women's title in 3 sets

In what was the first Wimbledon women's final since 2012 to stretch to three sets, Ashleigh got off to a flying start

Saturday July 10, 2021 11:43 PM, IANS

Womens Final Wimbledon 2021

London: World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia won the women's singles title at the Wimbledon Championships here on Saturday, beating eighth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in three sets 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in one hour and 55 minutes.

Ashleigh, who had become the first world No. 1 in five years to reach the final at SW19, is the first Australian woman player in 41 years after Evonne Goolagong Cawley (1980) to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish.

This is her second Grand Slam title after the 2019 French Open.

In what was the first Wimbledon women's final since 2012 to stretch to three sets, Ashleigh got off to a flying start, winning the first 14 points and four games in a row before clinching the first set 6-3.

"Watch Wimbledon Ladies Final Highlights"

She also led 3-1 in the second set but Karolina fought back to take the set to tie-breaker and win it. Ashleigh, at one point in time, was even serving for the second set.

Karolina committed errors in the final set as Ashleigh won it with ease.

The tie was evenly matched. While the Aussie sent down seven aces, her opponent managed to fire six. Interestingly, Ashleigh could win only 65 per cent of the points on first service as against 67 per cent by her 29-year-old opponent.

The 25-year-old converted six of the eight break-points she got as against four out of five by Karolina.

For Karolina, this is the second loss at a Grand Slam final. Her previous loss came during the 2016 US Open final when she went down to Angelique Kerber of Germany, also in three sets.

Ashleigh, who began playing tennis at the age of five, has also been a cricketer. She represented Brisbane Heat in the Women's Big Bash League in 2015-16 when she was on a break from tennis. However, failing to make much impression - 68 runs in nine matches -- she returned to tennis in 2016.

"Ashleigh Barty post match interview"

Two Australians have won Wimbledon women's singles title five times before Ashleigh Barty joined the club on Saturday. Margaret Court was the first to do so in 1963 and followed it up by winning in 1965 and 1970.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley bagged the title twice, in 1971 and 1980. Ashleigh on Saturday lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish after defeating Karolina Pliskova in three sets in the final, winning 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in one hour and 55 minutes.

And on the day of her biggest triumph, Ashleigh hoped that she had made Evonne proud by ending 41-year-old drought for Australia.

"I didn't sleep a lot last night thinking of all the what-ifs, but coming out on to the Centre Court, I felt at home. And I hope I made Evonne proud," Ashleigh said during her address at the presentation ceremony.

Though it looked like Karolina was getting back into the match after winning the second set, Ashleigh told her self to keep fighting. And that paid off as she went on to win the final.

"At the start of the third I told myself to just keep fighting. She's an incredible competitor, and she brought out the best in me. It was an exceptional match and I'm really proud that I was able to bring my best level, reset, just keep chipping away and hold my nerve at the end. I can't thank my team enough, sacrificing their time and energy into my dream," Ashleigh said.

Asked what she remembered of the match point, Ashleigh said: "Match point? I can't remember it! Being able to live out my dream with everyone here has made it better than I could ever have imagined."

She thanked Karolina for putting up a good fight.

"This is incredible. I have to say to Kaira (Karolina Pliskova) congratulate to you and your team for a fantastic tournament. I like testing myself against you and I am sure we will play many more matches," she said.

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