“It was something that I never knew if I would feel”

Top seed Ashleigh Barty pulled off a stunning 6-3, 7-6(3) victory over 2018 winner Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon semifinals on Thursday. Carrying a childhood dream and a nation’s hopes, Barty will now look to give her all on Saturday when she takes on 8th seed Karolina Pliskova in the final.

In a match that lived up to its billing, Barty and Kerber produced some grueling exchanges and showed some remarkable fighting spirit. After the Aussie breezed through the opening set, Kerber stepped up her game to lead by a break in the second.

But Barty’s relentless accuracy helped her take the match to a second set tiebreak, where she eventually clinched the win on her fourth match point. Speaking to the press after her win, the Aussie struggled to express her emotions about making the Wimbledon final.

“It was just almost a moment of relief, a moment of pure excitement. It was something that I never knew if I would feel,” Barty said. “I think being able to have an opportunity to play in a final here at Wimbledon is incredible.”

The World No. 1 also spared a few words for Angelique Kerber, acknowledging that the left-hander is an “incredible competitor”.

“I think for me today it was about knowing that I could draw on my experiences from my two previous semis, and I think I was able to do that,” Barty added. “But Angie is an incredible competitor. She’s a great champion. I knew that I had to bring my very best level today to match it with her.”

Angelique Kerber
Angelique Kerber

Ashleigh Barty had no official grasscourt matches under her belt in the lead-up to Wimbledon this year. A series of injuries had forced Barty out of the game for a few weeks following Roland Garros, and there were concerns she wouldn’t be able to give her best at SW19.

But the Aussie has looked at her best for most of this fortnight, with no signs of any physical discomfort. Having been able to play pain-free through her first six matches, Barty dedicated her incredible run to her team.

“I am extremely fortunate to have my team around me,” the 25-year-old said. “They are the best in the business and they have given me this opportunity to come out here and play.”

“Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning” – Ashleigh Barty

Ashleigh Barty
Ashleigh Barty

Interestingly, Ashleigh Barty had won the junior Wimbledon trophy in 2011. As she now aims for the ultimate prize – the Venus Rosewater Dish – Barty opened up about learning from her experience as a junior when she went all the way.

“I think Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning,” Barty said. “I think 10 years ago I came here for the first time as a junior and learned a lot in that week.”

The Aussie also reflected on her setbacks after turning pro, especially in the years 2018 and 2019. Barty lost in the third round in 2018 and the fourth round in 2019, even though she was expected to go a lot deeper.

“Probably 2018, 2019 was some of my toughest weeks playing,” the World No. 1 said. “To come away with our losses in those two tournaments, I learned a hell of a lot from those two times.”

“I think a lot of the time your greatest growth comes from your darkest times,” she added. “I think that’s why this tournament has been so important to me. I’ve learned so much with all my experiences, the good, bad, everything in between I’ve been able to learn from.”

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