Australian Open: 'Ashleigh Barty Cements Place As National Hero With Melbourne Win'

Cracking open a beer on live television, shortly after ending Australia's long wait for a home singles champion, will - for many - have further cemented Ashleigh Barty's reputation as a national hero.

The 25-year-old, of course, had already long achieved that status through her tennis achievements.

Winning her first Grand Slam at the 2019 French Open was backed up by success at Wimbledon last year.

Then, on Saturday, to the ecstasy and relief of a nation, she became the first home player to win the Australian Open men's or women's singles title in 44 years.

Later that night, while she was doing the rounds of post-victory interviews, there was further home success in Melbourne when Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis clinched the men's doubles title.

In a city which has endured one of the toughest lockdowns in the coronavirus pandemic, and for a tournament which was clouded in controversy at the start, it brought a welcome feel-good factor.

"As Aussies, we're exceptionally lucky to be a Grand Slam nation," said Barty.

"To get to experience playing at home is really special, and to be here as a champion of the tournament is really exciting."

The level-headed Barty is rarely overcome by emotion, either on court or during her media interviews. When she clinched victory on Rod Laver Arena with a cross-court winner, there was an uncharacteristic outburst when she screamed her delight.

"It was a little bit surreal," said the world number one.

"I think I didn't quite know what to do or what to feel, and I think just being able to let out a little bit of emotion, which is a little bit unusual for me.

"I think it just kind of all came out at once. It was a really, really special moment."



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