Ash Barty gave Australia a first Wimbledon women's singles finalist since 1980 as she fended off former champion Angelique Kerber. The first women's top seed to reach a semi-final at Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016, Barty needed to be at her sharpest to win 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in Thursday's Centre Court contest.
On Saturday, the 2011 girls' champion can look to join compatriots Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong on the list of those who have lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish. Goolagong, who saw off Chris Evert in the 1980 final, was the last Australian woman to reach the title match, although Pat Cash in 1987 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2002 have delivered triumphs in the men's event since then.
Barty set the tone for the first set against Kerber when she read the direction of a smash and rattled back a forehand passing winner down the line to earn an early break.
The second set was far more nip and tuck, Kerber seemingly in charge at 5-2 against a ruffled opponent, but back came the world number one, snatching the break back in grand style with a whipped forehand across court.
Entering the tie-break, the set and the match hung in the balance, but Barty bossed it, winning the opening six points and surviving a minor wobble to get the job done, Kerber crashing a backhand into the net on the fourth match point.
Barty, smiling at courtside, said: "This is incredible. This is close to as good a tennis match as I'll ever play. Angie definitely brought the best out of me today. It was a hell of a match right from the first ball.
"I'm incredibly proud of myself and my team and now we get a chance on Saturday to try to live out a childhood dream. I've had an incredible journey. I've had ups and downs and everything in-between and I wouldn't change one day or one moment."
"It's been unique, it's been incredible, it's been tough. There have been so many things that have led to this point and I certainly wouldn't change one thing about it. I'm enjoying every single day. Being able to play on the final Saturday here at Wimbledon is going to be just the best experience ever."
Data Slam: For-lawn hope of grass expert Kerber as Barty comes through
Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, took out a player with the third highest number of grass-court wins among active tour players. Kerber has 80, behind only Serena Williams (107) and Venus Williams (97), but Barty says grass is her own favourite surface and that showed. She had 38 winners and rammed down eight aces to take her tour-leading 2021 total to 255.
Barty – 38/16
Kerber – 16/23
Barty – 8/4
Kerber – 0/3
BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 2/5
Kerber – 1/6