Ashleigh Barty paid the ultimate tribute to Evonne Goolagong in the 50th anniversary year of her fellow Australian's historic Wimbledon triumph by emulating her hero and winning the Championships on Saturday.
Barty, who throughout the tournament wore a dress inspired by Goolagong's scallop-trim outfit from her 1971 title-winning year, held off a spirited fightback from Czech eighth seed Karolina Pliskova to win the final 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 for her second Grand Slam title.
“I hope I made Evonne proud,” an emotional Barty said in her post-match interview as she choked back the tears.
The top seed and world No 1 looked to be marching to victory when she won the first 13 points of the match on her way to a 4-0 lead. Pliskova appeared to struggle with her movement and timing and her vicious serve refused to behave. It was a clear sign of nerves from Pliskova and Barty was more than happy to capitalise.
Pliskova soon shrugged off the tension, though, and a break to love for 4-1 got her on the board. Barty did break back immediately as Pliskova's issues on serve continued, but another break with the Australian serving for the set suggested the Czech could find a way back into the match.
The first set was a lost cause — as Barty served it out to love — but a far more competitive second set followed, although it looked like it would be another cakewalk when Barty broke and held for a 3-1 lead.
However, Pliskova's serve finally started firing and as the world No 13 grew in confidence, she clawed her way back to level at 3-3. The set stayed on serve until Pliskova inexplicably collapsed after leading 40-0, but she responded by breaking Barty as she served for the match to send the set into a tiebreak.
A tense and thrilling tiebreak ensued, of which Pliskova assumed control when she won the point of the match for a 5-2 lead having chased down a ball at the net before thumping an overhead winner. The Czech earned herself three set points and eventually converted the third to send the final into a decider.
Finally the packed out, capacity crowd on Centre Court had a contest to get behind, but just as the match looked to be finely-poised, Barty once again struck out into an early lead after breaking Pliskova in the second game.
The rest of the set stayed on serve and Barty was again given the chance to serve out the match. After fending off a break point, the Australian brought up her first match point with an ace down the middle and she sealed the championship when Pliskova put a backhand into the net.
Having emulated Goolagong by winning the title Barty followed, quite literally, in the footsteps of another Australian Wimbledon champion by 'doing a Pat Cash' and climbing up the Centre Court tiers to celebrate with her team in the player's box.
“This is incredible,” Barty, 25, said. “I want to thank everyone in this stadium. You've made my dream so special, thank you very much.
“It took me a long time to verbalise, to dare to dream it and say it. I didn't sleep a lot last night, I was thinking of all the what-ifs.”
While Barty has now won both of her Grand Slam finals, having clinched her first major at the 2019 French Open, Pliskova is 0-2 from her title match appearances.
“Thank you so much to everyone here today, I enjoyed every minute of playing on this court,” Pliskova, 29, said. “I never cry, never, and now … I want to say Ash played an incredible tournament, I fought to make it difficult for her but she played very well.
“No matter which trophy I have, we have an incredible three weeks here.”