Australian Open Winner Is Extra-Special to Aussies

Ashleigh Barty beat US' Danielle Collins, becoming first Aussie to win nation's tourney since 1978
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2022 6:30 AM CST
Aussie Wins Australian Open for First Time in 44 Years
Ashleigh Barty, of Australia, is seen during the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament on Aug. 19, 2021, in Mason, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Aaron Doster, File)

It's been 44 years since either a men's or women's tennis player from Australia won the Australian Open. That changed Saturday, when Ashleigh Barty, 25, took home the title for her country in Melbourne, beating 28-year-old American Danielle Collins 6-3, 7-6, reports Yahoo Sports. The last Aussie titleholder was Chris O'Neil, in 1978. CNN notes that Barty was "utterly dominant" during the entire tourney, never dropping a set. This win gives Barty her third grand-slam title, the other two including the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last year.

It was a big win that nearly never came to be. Per the Wall Street Journal, Barty, from Brisbane, left the sport when she was 18 to try her hand at professional cricket, and she had to be persuaded to come back to the tennis world. The newspaper notes she was a heavy favorite right from the start of this month's tournament, and that the pressure of playing on her home turf looked to be her biggest roadblock. It was a roadblock she circumvented. "The most important part of this tournament is [being] able to share it with you," Barty told spectators after her win, per Yahoo. "This crowd is one of the most fun I've ever played in front of. ... You forced me to play my best tennis." Watch Barty's (and the home crowd's) reaction to her win here. (More Australian Open stories.)

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