They stayed in touch all the same, and Casey was not remotely surprised to see how brilliantly Ash did at cricket, too. There was just something about her combination of natural ability, hard work and will to win that meant she would go seriously well at just about any sport she chose.
But now, here was another odd thing. In January 2016, while Casey was recovering from a bad concussion she’d suffered from a fall on court, Ash called. She had a couple of days free between her cricket match in Brisbane and the next one in Adelaide. Could she come and stay with Casey, her partner Amanda, and their three kids, just to catch up? Among other things, Ash was worried about Casey’s concussion and wanted to check in. Of course, Ash.
It was wonderful to see her and, after talking late into the first night and sleeping late, Casey suggested they head off to the courts at Homebush and have a hit, just for old time’s sake.
And so they did.
And here is the punch-line, friends.
For it was during that hit that Ashleigh Barty had the sudden revelation – she did love this game after all! She did miss it. And maybe she should give it another go?
Great, Ash, go for it. Casey Dellacqua had an equal revelation. Despite the severe concussion that had kept her off the court for months, she, too, still had more in her and felt she could play again – ideally with Ash.
The younger woman finished the season with the Heat then came back to tennis, pairing with Dellacqua once more and going on to do singularly well on the doubles circuit – the two contested all four grand slams together in 2017, making the final of the French Open – even while Barty continued to relentlessly rise in the singles rankings from her 2016 starting point in the 400s.
Three years later, in 2019, Ash won the singles title at Roland Garros. And finally, the achievement to beat them all: last Saturday night, she won the Wimbledon singles title at the age of 25. At home in Malabar with Amanda, Casey Dellacqua wept.
Tatts just my age showing
What was wrong with me? Why was I so strongly sniffy about Ash Barty’s opponent in the Wimbledon final, Karolina Pliskova, having two large tattoos visible on her arm and thigh? It was none of my damn business, and like my damn hide to even presume to pass comment on how she decorates her skin. And then I realised.
I have just turned 60. I guess it goes with the territory. Soon enough, I guess, I will be taking up lawn bowls, looking for my slippers, ringing up late-night talkback and voting Liberal!
The other thing that took my attention in the final, as if you care, was Barty’s boyfriend in the player’s box: seemingly the only man in the tennis stadium who did not have a collared shirt on, preferring what looked to be the first t-shirt he came to on top of his bag, what were maybe some footy shorts, and his Liverpool cap.
It was expressed well by one of the twitterati, Dave Donovan: “I love that Barty’s boyfriend looks like a typical Aussie couch potato. Legend!” He meant that respectfully, and so do I. The 29-year-old Garry Kissick has his own dreams of playing professional golf – in the meantime working with the irrigation at a Brisbane golf club – and there was something very touching about the quiet support he showed for Ash during and after the match, completely unconcerned about the cameras and only caring about her.
He was not, in fact, the classic Aussie bloke who might have been standing on the seat and leading chants of “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” , but he was just so very perfect as the lead player in the #BartyParty while she did the job out on the court.
Queensland, we’re all counting on you
The AFL and NRL seasons, together with what’s left of the Wallabies home internationals?
Hanging by a thread. It seems extraordinary that, a year after everything ground to a halt, sport should be once again on the edge of the abyss. But make no mistake, that is exactly where it stands at the moment.
Right now, a COVID-free Queensland is all that stands between all those football codes and the season stopping stone dead. If it locks down like NSW and Victoria, shits is trumps on the blind, and the fat lady warbling in the stands will be ushered to the exits and issued with a breach notice.
What they said
Ashley Barty on winning Wimbledon: “It took me a long time to verbalise the fact that I wanted to dare to dream it and say I wanted to win this incredible tournament . . . I didn’t sleep a lot last night. I was thinking of all the what-ifs. But I think when I was coming out on this court, I felt at home, in a way.”
On the inspiration of Evonne Goolagong Cawley, as she held the Wimbledon trophy secure in her arms: “I hope I made Evonne proud.”
Goolagong Cawley returns serve: “I am just so very much proud of Ash, the way she handles herself not just on the court but off the court too. She is a great Australian, everybody loves her . . . Ash to me is like a little sister and part of my family.”
Patty Mills chimes in: “41 years since the last Australian woman to win Wimbledon and that was Evonne Goolagong Cawley and 50 years since her first Wimbledon title, then Ash does it in, in a dress that’s inspired by her idol in Evonne during NAIDOC week. These are all things that give you goosebumps when you’re talking about an amazing inspiration for everyone in Australia, especially Indigenous Australians, I even choke up a little bit thinking about it. It is amazing.”
Queensland’s Ben Hunt after Origin III: “That was chaos, absolute chaos. Back end was hanging out. Welshy done that high tackle, I wanted to kill him. I was gone, just wanted to get the ball back. Massive credit to our boys.”
Sports reporter Mark Gottlieb on twitter: “Ben Hunt broke my heart multiple times but he’s like the girlfriend you just never get over. He’s so easy to fall in love with again.”
English soccer player Marcus Rashford on receiving abuse for missing a penalty: “I’m Marcus Rashford, 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, South Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that. For all the kind messages thank you. I’ll be back stronger. We’ll be back stronger.”
Headline on Channel 7’s facebook page that defies belief: “Three Black players failed in the penalty shootout which England lost 3-2 against Italy.” It made headlines around the world. The headline was removed and Channel 7 apologised.
IOC president Thomas Bach arriving in Japan: “Our common target is safe and secure games for everybody; for the athletes, for all the delegations, and most importantly also for the Chinese people . . . Japanese people.” One of those, anyway. Let’s go with both. No. OK, stick with Japanese people!
Rory McIlroy inspired by Steph Curry to be more like Rory McIlroy: “My big inspiration over the last few months has been Steph Curry. Of all the athletes I have watched and looked at, he loves being Steph Curry. I need to love being Rory McIlroy.” Step back Rory, and let Chris Gayle show you how’s it done.
Chris Gayle after his first T20 International 50 since 2016: “Don’t mind the numbers, Chris Gayle not getting the runs, soon to be 42. You guys should be happy to see Chris Gayle on the field still, hopefully Chris will last as long as possible. Cherish those moments, commentators don’t put up no stats about Chris Gayle not scoring a half-century. Just respect the Universe Boss, let him play cricket and have some fun. Enjoy the moment with Chris Gayle, a strong West Indies teams and some good youngsters.” That is surely a post-war record for self-reverential-self-referential wankery? As for you Andrew Webster, winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Lionel Messi on finally winning a major trophy with Argentina: “I knew it would happen eventually. I am grateful to God for giving me this moment, in Brazil against Brazil. I think He was saving this moment for me.” Up yourself, much?
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick after losing to Collingwood by sixteen points last Sunday arvo: “See my head? There’s a dent in it from headbutting a brick wall at the moment.”
Team of the Week
Ash Barty. RAH! Wins her second grand slam, event, becoming the first Australian woman to win the Wimbledon title since 1980, a neat 50 years after her mentor Evonne Goolagong accomplished the same thing. Fabulous.
Dylan Alcott. Claimed his second Wimbledon quad wheelchair singles championship.
Novak Djokovic. Won his 20th major to equal Federer and Nadal.
Queensland. Going into Origin III they were on the wrong end of a 76-6 deficit from Origins I and II.
Matildas and Olyroos. Get our Olympic campaign under way. The Tillies take on NZ on Wednesday and the men play Argentina on Thursday.
France. On the eve of Bastille Day, had their first Test rugby victory in Australia since 1990. Sets it up for a grandstand finish tonight.
Min Woo Lee. The Australian golfer won the Scottish Open.
Italy. Won the Euro thing, beating England in the penalty shoot-out.
Boomers. Beat the latest iteration of the US Dream Team in a warm-up match for the Olympics.