Home » Barty rapt to be on centre court, but please don’t ask again about a comeback

Barty rapt to be on centre court, but please don’t ask again about a comeback

Barty rapt to be on centre court, but please don’t ask again about a comeback

The Australian duo, who reached four major finals together, were scratchy at times, and Barty missed more often on her forehand than probably ever before, but the genius tennis brain, exquisite volley skills and gorgeous backhand slice remain.

She was predictably, and comfortably, the best player on court.

The crowd revelled in Barty’s return, with one fan breaking into an off-tune, “C’mon Barty, let’s go party” that prompted a wide grin from the triple grand slam champion and the rest of the players.

“It was amazing, and a lovely surprise to be able to go out on centre court. I thought I’d played my last match out there,” Barty said. “For Casey and I, it was nice to resurrect our last match we played together on centre court. It was beautiful out there this evening. I think everyone enjoyed it. We had a good time.”

Barty’s 2021 Wimbledon triumph was the first piece of her retirement puzzle, which was complete once she conquered the Australian Open six months later.

She walked away from the sport soon after for a second time, completely fulfilled and ready to start a family with her golfer husband Garry Kissick – but this time for good.

Barty and Dellacqua loved being back on Wimbledon’s centre court.Credit: Getty Images

“[My Wimbledon win] changed so much in my life. It was my childhood dream to win this tournament, to win The Championships,” Barty said.

“I was able to do that. I was fortunate enough to be in a position to play on such a beautiful court on a Saturday afternoon that every athlete wants to play. It was really nice to go out there today and reminisce a little bit.

“It feels very different when you’re under the microscope in a singles final to when you’re out there with your best mate. Both enjoyable, but both very different.”

Barty has impressed with her succinct and understated style in her commentary debut for the BBC, and will undoubtedly be a target for Channel Nine at next year’s Australian Open.

Barty loved being back on court but has no intention of returning professionally.

Barty loved being back on court but has no intention of returning professionally.Credit: AP

She has not indicated whether this commentary stint will be a one-off, but did say: “I’m not that ingrained in the media world yet.”

That single word at the end should be enough for Nine executives to blow up Barty’s agent Nikki Craig’s phone for the next six months.

“I’ve been removed for two-and-a-half years – however long it’s been – and I haven’t watched much [tennis in between],” Barty said.

“Now, it’s jumping back in. Some things are different; some things haven’t changed. I love tennis. I love being here. I love being involved. Now, I just get to pick and choose in small doses, which is really nice.”

‘Broken’ for the Demon

Responding to de Minaur’s withdrawal from his quarter-final against Novak Djokovic, Barty said she was “broken” for her countryman but confident he would bounce back better than ever.

De Minaur was unable to take to centre court to face Djokovic because of a hip injury.

“You could see how much it means to him. Like he said, this was the biggest match of his life,” Barty said.

“This was the opportunity that he had worked so hard for. To have something awful like that happen [is so disappointing, but] he is a resilient athlete.

“I know that this will be a challenge. But there will be a silver lining somewhere along the way that he’ll grow from. He’s too intelligent and too driven and passionate and motivated not to learn from it and grow from it.

“It hurts, though. You can’t hide behind the fact that it’s awful. You have to be able to accept it. It’s OK to let it be flattening for a while, but he will, I’m sure, be able to come back.”

De Minaur reached back-to-back quarter-finals at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon to propel his ranking to a career-high No.6 after the grasscourt major, in a staggering rise from being 30th in the world in July 2022.

Alex de Minaur hurt himself late in his fourth round match and had to withdraw before the start of his quarter-final against Novak Djokovic.

Alex de Minaur hurt himself late in his fourth round match and had to withdraw before the start of his quarter-final against Novak Djokovic.Credit: AP

Barty said de Minaur – whom she shared the Newcombe Medal with in 2018 – had earned his standing in world tennis.

“He belongs in the top 10,” she said. “He belongs in the quarter-finals, semi-finals, latter stages of grand slams. This won’t be the last time he’s in a quarters here. He’ll get another opportunity.”

Australia’s 1987 Wimbledon men’s champion, Pat Cash, said it was “hugely disappointing” for de Minaur, who he felt had his best chance to go deep at a grand slam.

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“[De Minaur] has really got himself into the position where he feels he can compete at the grand slam tournaments, and he has a shot at winning, getting to the semi-finals, finals,” Cash said on BBC.

“Obviously, he was playing Novak Djokovic, but there is a question about Djokovic’s fitness, so you think this is possibly the best opportunity Alex would have to go further … you could see how devastated he was, and he has made the right decision.”

Australia’s Max Purcell, who is into the Wimbledon men’s doubles semi-finals with Jordan Thompson, saw an “upset” de Minaur walking around gingerly after they won their quarter-final on Wednesday.

“He’s always wanted to do well here. I think he beat Novak at the start of the year, and he really wanted to beat him again,” Purcell said.

Djokovic will face first-time major semi-finalist Lorenzo Musetti, who came from behind to beat American Taylor Fritz 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

The other semi-final between defending champion Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev was locked in on Tuesday.

Elena Rybakina, who won the Wimbledon title two years ago, and 2021 Roland-Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova were the two women’s quarter-final winners on Wednesday.

Rybakina dispatched Elena Svitolina 6-3, 6-2, while Krejcikova put a stop to Jelena Ostapenko’s dominant run with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory.

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Croatian Donna Vekic and Italy’s Roland-Garros runner-up Jasmine Paolini are the other semi-finalists.

Marc McGowan is at Wimbledon with the support of Tennis Australia.

Watch Wimbledon 2024 from July 1 live and exclusively free on Nine and 9Now with every match streaming ad-free, live and on demand with centre court in 4K on Stan Sport.

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