Ashleigh Barty’s Australian Open victory has not only made her the first home singles champion for 44 years, but also the most successful Australian singles player in four decades.
Barty defeated American Danielle Collins 6-3 7-6 (2) to emulate Chris O’Neil, who won her only grand slam title in Melbourne in 1978.
It was Barty’s third slam title from her third final having also won the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last summer.
For a country that dominated tennis for much of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, recent decades have seen a dearth of success.
Before Barty, Sam Stosur at the US Open in 2011 was the only Australian woman to win a slam singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley claimed the last of her seven trophies at Wimbledon in 1980.
And Barty is the first Australian man or woman since her mentor Goolagong Cawley, who fittingly presented the trophy to her on Saturday, to win more than two slam singles titles.
Both Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter managed two titles, with Hewitt winning the US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002 while Rafter won back-to-back titles in New York in 1997 and 1998.
Before that, Pat Cash’s memorable Wimbledon victory in 1987 was the only Australian singles triumph for a man since Mark Edmondson’s home title in 1976.
Cawley’s tally of seven looks a realistic target for Barty, who has established herself as a clear world number one and is at home on all surfaces.
Should the 25-year-old win the US Open, she would join Serena Williams as the only active female player to have completed the career Grand Slam.
Barty would also become only the second Australian woman to achieve the feat after Margaret Court, who holds the overall record with 24 singles titles.
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