SYDNEY (Reuters) – Ash Barty’s close friend Casey Dellacqua led the way in typically Australian style as a proud sporting nation woke up to hail its first women’s Wimbledon singles champion in 41 years on Sunday.
Like much of Australia, former professional Dellacqua stayed up into the early hours to watch Barty beat Karolina Pliskova and end the long wait since her idol Evonne Goolagong claimed the second of her All England Club titles in 1980.
“Beyond proud of you. Wimbledon Champion! You bloody ripper,” Dellacqua posted on Twitter, using an Australian term of exuberant praise.
She added in a Channel Nine TV interview: “It’s just extraordinary … She does it with such grace and with such integrity, she sets a really good example for sport in Australia about how to be a champion.”
Barty’s triumph was lauded by a who’s who of Australians on social media, ranging from tennis great Rod Laver’s “congratulations” to pop star Kylie Minogue’s “ASSSSSSSSHHHHBAAAARRRTYYYYYYYY!!!”.
Cathy Freeman, whose gold medal run at the 2000 Olympics is widely regarded as a seminal moment in Australia’s relationship with its indigenous community, tweeted of her “massive pride” in her fellow Aboriginal athlete.
Barty’s triumph came on the 50th anniversary of Goolagong’s first Wimbledon title, and the 25-year-old said after her win that he she hoped she had done the indigenous sporting trailblazer proud.
“They are both relatable human beings, they are both great tennis players and they are both great to watch,” Dellacqua said of the pair.
Former French Open champion Barty was already one of Australia’s favourite athletes, beloved as much for her grounded personality as for her success.
An emotional Dellacqua said Barty’s parents deserved a great deal of credit for raising a “great human being”.
Barty spoke to her family, who were unable to travel to London from their Queensland home for the final, after her victory.
“Ash can’t wait to get home,” her father Rob told Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper.
“She knows she is on a long journey and won’t be home until November. She is dying to get back. But she talks to her sisters and her mum every day with FaceTime. She is very much a family person.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by William Mallard)