As they drove her to junior tennis training, Ash Barty’s parents had no idea their daughter would ever be world No.1 – let alone win Wimbledon.
The Australian tennis ace is the new champion after beating world 13 Karolina Pliskova in an epic three-set final.
Barty, 25, is the third Australian woman to win the grand slam, the last one being Evonne Goolagong 41 years ago.
Leading the Barty Party of supporters back home in Australia who stayed up until the early hours of Sunday morning to cheer her on were proud parents Rob and Josie.
Barty was on the phone to her parents back in Queensland within an hour of her famous victory, two years after her first maiden grand slam at the French Open.
Australian Ash Barty has won her second tennis grand slam after winning the Wimbledon final
They watched the Wimbledon final at the home of her daughter’s manager Nikki Mathias on the Gold Coast, where her dad celebrated with a can of Coke Zero.
Mr Barty recalled how his daughter at the age of nine asked whether Serena Williams would be still be playing when she became world number one and how the precocious talent proved everyone wrong, including him.
‘We are completely overjoyed. I loved tonight when things were going against her that she smiled and didn’t let things get to her and that comes back to (mental coach) Ben Crowe,’ Mr Barty told News Corp.
‘Winning Wimbledon was something she spoke to her first coach Jim Joyce about on several occasions.’
He opened up about how close his daughter came to not picking up a racquet again after she quit the sport indefinitely to pursue other interests, including a cricket stint with Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash Women’s League.
Robert (left) and Josie Barty (right) stayed up until early morning to watch their daughter Ash (centre) win Wimbledon
A hit on the court with fellow tennis star Casey Dellacqua reignited Barty’s love for tennis as she climbed from 325 in the world to the number one.
‘I was 100 per cent certain she would never return to tennis. It was done and dusted,’ Mr Barty recalled.
He and his wife represented their state in golf and had no idea their youngest daughter would one day play on tennis’ biggest stage.
‘We weren’t tennis players. We were golfers,’ Mr Barty said.
‘We just thought she was one of these kids that could do everything.
‘We had no idea. People used to say how good she was at tennis but we just thought she was a kid having fun.’
Her parents had no idea their little girl (pictured as a youngster) would go on to become the women’s tennis world number one
Her parents finally became aware of how good she was, and trusted the teenage Barty to create her own path with the help junior coach Jim Joyce.
‘Then she goes over and wins (junior) Wimbledon at the age of 15, you don’t usually win the junior slams until you’re 18, your last year, and we sort of thought ‘maybe she is pretty good at this game,’ Mr Barty said
‘And we just kept on going the same way we did.
‘We just left it up to the pros, her coaches, to do the work and all we worried about was trying to raise a respectful young lady.’
He insists there’s no favourites in the Barty household and that Ash’s older sisters Sara and Ali are treated the same as her.
‘We’re always onto them, all three girls,’ he said.
‘Even though they’re women now, we tell them you’ve got to be respectful, you’ve got to treat them well and you’ve got to be a nice person.
‘The two older girls, if there’s ever a family that there’s been an excuse for a sibling to be jealous, it’s ours, because of what we have to do for Ash to get her to be where she is.
‘But Sara and Ali are Ash’s biggest fans. They know what Ash has foregone.
‘They know the commitment she has had to show and they do everything they can to make sure her life is as normal and enjoyable as it can be.’
It was the second time since 2006 that a Wimbledon women’s final has gone to a deciding set
Ash Barty celebrates with boyfriend Garry Kissick after winning her Ladies’ Singles Final
Barty hasn’t seen her family since leaving Australia in March to play on the world tour.
It will be another four months before she will see them again when she returns home in November.
During her post-match press conference, Barty cut a lone figure in the media room as she fielded questions from reporters via Zoom.
Barty fell to her knees and wept with joy moments after her 6-3, 6-7 and 6-3 win in just under two hours.
It was the first time in the tournament an opponent had pushed Barty to three sets in front of a packed arena which included Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Hollywood star Tom Cruise and previous Wimbledon champions Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King.
Barty was congratulated on her win by none other than the Duchess of Cambridge (left)
‘It took me a long time to verbalise the fact that I wanted to dare a dream and say I wanted to win this incredible tournament and being able to live out my dream right now with everyone here, this has made it better than I could have imagined,’ Barty said after hoisting the Venus Rosewater Dish into the air.
‘I didn’t sleep a lot last night. I was thinking of all the what ifs, but I think when I was coming out on this court, I felt at home in a way.
‘I think being able to share that with everyone here, to share that with my team, is incredible.’
She also paid tribute to the Australian fans watching back at home who stayed up late.
‘I know they’re at home watching. I miss them, I love them. I’m so glad that they were able to at least watch and share this with me. But I can’t wait to get home to them in a few month’s time and really celebrate,’ she said.
Ashleigh Barty won Wimbledon with a three-set 6-3 6-7 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova
CAREER SNAPSHOT OF AUSTRALIA’S ASH BARTY:
Ash Barty pictured long before she took to the world stage at Wimbledon
Born: Ipswich, Australia
Lives: Brisbane, Australia
Plays: Right-handed (two-handed backhand)
Career prize money: $US21,197,824
Career titles: 12
Career win-loss record: 287-100
Grand slam titles: 2 (French Open 2019; Wimbledon 2021)
Grand slam win-loss record: 48-23
2021 titles: 4
2021 win-loss record: 35-6
Wimbledon win-loss record: 12-4
Best Wimbledon result: Champion 2021
Coach: Craig Tyzzer
Road to title:
1st rd: bt Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) 6-1 6-7 (1-7) 6-1
2nd rd: bt Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-4 6-3
3rd rd: bt Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 6-3 7-5
4th rd: bt 14-Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 7-5 6-3
QF: bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-1 6-3
SF: bt 25-Angelique Kerber (GER) 6-3 7-6 (7-3)
F: bt 8-Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3