"This is incredible," Ashleigh Barty said after hugging the Wimbledon trophy and earning the first British grand slam of her career. She had defeated the hard-fighting Karolina Pliskova to pull off the upset.
But Barty pulled out a lot of incredibles to win her maiden title and at times doubted if she could come through with the goods. She admitted her fears saying "I didn't sleep a lot last night. I was thinking of all the what-ifs..."
It was astonishing that she wasn't mentally crippled by her insecurities and had her performances terribly affected. As the Pandemic came last year in 2020, Barty and her team though it unwise to play the season.
They became unnerved and with the US Open approaching she decided to give it 'a miss' "..It was a difficult decision, but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19. I don't feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position."
Barty had admitted to CNN's Jill Martin. This new 2021 season brought about still more obstacles for the no. 1 woman player as she lost in the quarterfinal round of the Australian Open in January. She'd win the first round in a double bagel over Danka Kovinic of Montenegro.
Strong and defiant, she never lost a set through to her quarterfinal but became inconsistent and was defeated by the Czech Karolina Muchova in a 3-set thriller. Barty won the Miami Open title over the retirement of Canada's Bianca Andreescu leaving her devastated over a foot injury.
The Australian's game showed top skill winning the Stuttgart Open over Aryna Sabalenka. Madrid was a total difference as the reverse performance netted the Belarusian a victory over Barty for the title. Things took an unfortunate turn when Barty had to retire from the Italian Open quarterfinal against teen Coco Gauff.
It was an arm injury that hammered the Australian's game and she confessed that "..the pain was becoming too severe, so it was important to try and do the right thing. It's disappointing no doubt but it was important that I listened to my body...and make sure that in a couple of weeks' time I'm 100% fit for Roland Garros," Barty got real about her ailment.
The French Open wasn't to be for WTA no. 1 as she had to also retire from her second round match with a hip injury against Magda Linette. Barty was down a set in the match and thought it wise to end before prolonged damage would develop.
She was saddened to bow since it was a few years ago she would win her maiden title in Paris. Everyone looks to the grass season warm up events leading to Wimbledon but Barty had to skip it all focusing on rehab and healing in time for Wimbledon.
It was her practice sessions that prepared her for the third slam of the season and she would go the entire tournament not dropping a set until it came to the final with Karolina Pliskova. The opening set was nearly all Barty as she zoomed through to win 6-3.
But her Czech opponent came back strong and pulled Barty into a tiebreak and split sets. The usual fashion of Ashleigh Barty surged and she corrected all her errors of the 2nd set and became overbearing to Pliskova in the deciding set.
The Czech smiled and admitted that Barty was a difficult opponent to defeat saying "I was fighting hard to make it difficult." The Australian often seems to make it look easy but had to be honest despite her winning over the Czech saying "I love testing myself against you.
Karolina is a tough player. She brought out the best in me." Ashleigh Barty seems to be back on track physically and mentally as she prepars for the Tokyo Olympics. "I'm excited to do Australians proud..."
Barty says smilingly. She has a lot now to look forward to and especially the last slam of the year, the US Open in August and September. There's a party going on for the Barty team but who knows when and if it will end.
"I have a lot of other goals, dreams that are in my mind and within my team," Ashleigh Barty says honest and proudly.