Ashleigh Barty has expressed her pride at being able to open Centre Court on day 2 of Wimbledon in her match against Carla Suarez Navarro.
The No 1 seed came through in three sets against the Spaniard, winning 6-1 6-7 (1-7) 6-1.
Normally, the opening match on the main court would feature the defending champion, but with 2019 champion Simona Halep ruled out with injury and no tournament taking place in 2020, Barty received the call.
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Speaking after her win, a humbled Barty was full of gratitude for the opportunity and paid tribute to the absent Halep.
“With all my heart I wish Simo was here to do it herself,” she told the BBC.
“She’s a champion. She’s earned the right to open this court
“To be given the honour when I haven’t fully deserved it, I wanted to come out here and pay respect to that.
“It’s an honour and a privilege and I was extremely humbled when Jamie [Baker – Tournament director] asked me to come out here and play on this beautiful court.
“I couldn’t be more proud to be out here.”
During her first round win, Barty wore a customised outfit paying tribute to fellow indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley, marking 50 years since the latter win the grass court tournament wearing an iconic scallop dress.
“For me to be able to wear an outfit inspired by her iconic dress is a privilege,” she added.
“I called her to ask if she would be ok with it. To pay tribute in a very small way is incredible and I hope I can do her proud.”
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