Barty set for 'childhood dream' in first Wimbledon final

·4-min read
'One of my best': Australia's Ashleigh Barty celebrates

Ashleigh Barty said she would be able to experience for real a childhood dream of playing in the Wimbledon final after she produced an impressive display to beat 2018 winner Angelique Kerber 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) on Thursday.

The 25-year-old Australian will play former world number one Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in Saturday's final.

"Angelique brought the best out of me and now I have a chance on Saturday to live out a childhood dream," said Barty.

Barty -- who won the junior title in 2011 -- says she cannot put an age on when she dared to dream of winning Wimbledon.

"I think once you start playing more tennis when you're younger, start understanding what is in the world of tennis, I think you dare to dream," she said.

"I think it's just about going out there and remembering how you felt as a kid, that there was the enjoyment, there was the freedom just to go out there and kind of try and do what you can."

Barty is the first Australian woman to reach the final since her idol and mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley won her second Wimbledon title in 1980.

"It's incredible, it was as close to as good a tennis match that I have ever played," said Barty who fired eight aces and 38 winners.

"It was a hell of a match from the first ball."

"I am really proud of myself and my team. It's been an incredible journey, full of ups and downs."

Cawley looms large on Barty's horizon as she is eager to win the title on the 50th anniversary of her fellow indigenous Australian's first Wimbledon crown.

She is wearing a specially designed dress in tribute to the iconic scallop outfit Cawley wore that day.

- 'Special anniversary' -

"It's a really special anniversary for Evonne," said Barty.

"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 recovered from 1-4 down in the second set to triumph and move one win away from capturing a second Grand Slam title after her 2019 French Open victory.

Barty was able to put together a sequence of winning points that Kerber was unable to match -- twice rattling off 10 points in a row.

Barty admitted it was hard to imagine at one point after a hip injury forced her to withdraw from her second round match at the French Open -- only weeks before The Championships began -- she would be in a Wimbledon final.

"If you told me a month ago we'd be sitting in this position, I really wouldn't have thought that we would even get close," she said.

"I think it's pretty special what we've been able to do the last month."

Kerber, also a former Australian Open and US Open champion, saw her 10-match win streak end at the hands of Barty.

However, the 33-year-old will be encouraged that she has perhaps turned around a slump which began after her 2018 Wimbledon triumph.

Thursday's semi-final appearance was her best performance at a Grand Slam since that title victory three years ago.

"That was in my mind, that I really came back after such a long time," said Kerber.

"That I was able to turn around everything, that I won the tournament at home in Germany, that I played here unbelievable tennis, that I put so many emotions and my heart on court."

Kerber said there was no question Barty deserved her victory but she took solace in the reception she received.

"If you go out and you have the standing ovation at the Centre Court in Wimbledon, I mean, that's the best feeling you can have even if you lost," said Kerber.

"For me it was just, you know, the fight that I put up in the last few weeks in my tennis, that's actually what counts for me right now."

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