July 10, 2021

All Grown Up

Ten years ago Ashleigh Barty won the Girls' singles title at Wimbledon, her first and only Grand Slam trophy on the Juniors circuit. And earlier today she became just the fourth woman ever to repeat the feat as a pro, claiming the Ladies' crown in a stunning display of cool and adding a second Major championship to her résumé.

Her win was far from straightforward though. A heavy favorite in Saturday's final, she'd only dropped one set the entire tournament, taking out former Wimbledon champ Angelique Kerber and newly-crowned Barbora Krejcikova in straight sets. But she was surprisingly tested by former world #1 Karolina Pliskova, who'd reached her second Slam final with a decisive win over a frustrated Aryna Sabalenka in the semis.

After losing the first fourteen points and four games, the Czech made a match of things. She broke Barty late in the second set, when she was serving for the title, and displayed some pretty impressive play in the tiebreak to force a decider. But Barty proved stronger in the third -- she got up an early break and didn't look back, saving break point when trying to serve it out for a second time and converting on match point after just under two hours.

The win earned Barty her fourth title of the year, now at least one on every surface, and cemented her place at the top of the rankings. And a second Slam title suggests she'll be one to watch for a long time to come. After all, there are plenty of people out there who are one-and-done, but Barty's consistency over the past few years -- even in a year in which she saw virtually no play on the tennis courts -- certainly puts her in a different league.

And at a time when we're so ready to find out who among the next generation will take up the mantle of the tennis greats, Ash Barty has clearly stepped up to the plate. And she might just be the one to lead the new guard to even greater heights.

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