‘Touch and go’: injury had threatened Ash Barty’s Wimbledon dream

Ash Barty, on a high after reaching her first Wimbledon final, has revealed how close she was to missing out on her dream at the All England Club because of injury. And Australia’s first women’s finalist since her mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley 41 years ago admitted she was never sure during her career that this historic breakthrough day would materialise.

Buoyant after her 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) defeat of 2018 champion Angelique Kerber in the semi-final, Barty, back to her physical sharpest, admitted that it had actually been touch-and-go whether she would compete at the grass-court grand slam after the injury she suffered at the French Open.

“We had 23 or 24 days in between finishing up in Paris and my first round here,” said Barty, after playing what she felt was one of the highest-quality matches of her career. “To be honest, it was going to be touch-and-go. Everything had to be spot on to give myself a chance to play pain-free and to play knowing that I could trust my body.

“To know that my body’s held up over a fortnight off a different preparation, and just being able to accept that I could trust everything that we’ve done to the best of our ability, is incredible.”

Barty paid tribute to her team led by coach Craig Tyzzer, who orchestrated her rehabilitation. “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.”

Tyzzer himself added that there had “definitely” been doubts, as he praised the efforts of physio Mel Omizzolo and physical performance coach Matt Hayes in getting her back into shape.

“She probably came into the tournament a little bit underdone tennis-wise because I had to back off what I could do on court with her just to make sure that we were getting things right,” said Tyzzer. “So to be where she is now is just an amazing achievement by those guys especially.”

Tyzzer said at no point before The Championships started was he sure that she would make it to Wimbledon. “Probably not overly confident. It was more hopeful and the fact that, ‘OK she could start and be injury-free.’”

Asked when she first believed she could make a Wimbledon final, Barty conceded: “I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen, honestly. I think you have to keep putting yourself in the position. Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning.

“Ten years ago, I came here for the first time as a junior and learned a lot in that week [when she won the girls’ title]. Probably 2018 [when she lost to Daria Kastkina], 2019 [beaten by Alison Riske] was some of my toughest weeks playing.

“To come away with losses in those two tournaments, I learned a hell of a lot from those two times. A lot of the time your greatest growth comes from your darkest times. I think that’s why this tournament has been so important to me. I’ve learned so much with all my experiences – the good, bad, and everything in between.”

It had been, she told the Centre Court crowd, an incredible journey. “I’ve had ups and downs, and everything in between, and I wouldn’t change one day or one moment, or one route we’ve taken on my path,” she said. “It’s been unique, it’s been incredible, it’s been tough, and I wouldn’t change one thing about it.

“I’m enjoying every single day that we get to come out here and do what I love, and being able to on the final Saturday here at Wimbledon is going to be just the best experience ever.”