Many of us were thinking it, but it was Fox commentator Tatiana Golovin who had the nerve to say it.
When Ashleigh Barty was a set and a break up in her Grand Slam final against Marketa Vondrousova, and with victory looming for the Australian 23-year-old, the retired French mixed doubles champion said a Barty victory would be “amazing for Australian tennis”: “At least they won’t be talking about [Nick] Kyrgios, they’ll be talking about [a] positive in Ashleigh Barty.”
As has been the case for too long, Barty has been an exemplary sportswoman whose respected demeanour and success has nonetheless failed to translate into mainstream media headlines.
This year, Kyrgios managed to make headlines despite withdrawing from the tournament, after claiming the French Open “sucks”, while Tomic drew raised eyebrows and analysis aplenty after telling media he was “pretty sure” he tried in a listless first-round loss.
The narrative goes that Australian tennis has been in desperate need of a hero, but the truth is that Barty has had heroic qualities and a deadly story all along.Paving the way for future Aboriginal Australian sporting stars
Take pause to consider what an extraordinary feat Barty’s Grand Slam victory is.
She is the first Australian woman to win the French Open since Margaret Court in 1973. But as an Aboriginal Australian, the triumph two years earlier of her mentor, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, is perhaps most significant.
As Barty acknowledged after her win, Goolagong Cawley’s extraordinary career paved the way for future generations of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous tennis stars.
“It’s amazing how she’s created this path for Indigenous tennis in Australia and I think now it’s becoming more nationwide,” said Barty post-match.
“There are more opportunities for kids to play tennis, both male and female, and I hope we can continue to create those opportunities and let kids know that this is an option for a career. And even if it’s not, it’s a sport that they can play for life.”
Barty is already a Tennis Australia Indigenous ambassador and her Grand Slam victory is sure to mobilize another generation of Indigenous girls and boys, emboldened by the hope of reaching those same sporting heights. Read More