The final of Wimbledon 2021 is going to be between Ashleigh Barty and Karolína Plíšková. It’ll be Barty’s first Wimbledon final. Here’s everything you need to know about the Aussie and the women who were knocked out in the race to the final.
Is it just me or does it feel like Wimbledon only started last week? We’re now approaching the final, with the Australian Ashleigh Barty facing Czech Karolína Plíšková on Saturday.
To get here, they’ve had to take out some seriously fierce competition. Emma Raducanu, the British teenager who flew to prominence at Wimbledon 2021, retired from the competition after experiencing breathing difficulties in her match against Ajla Tomljanovic last week.
Stalwarts of the competition like Serena Williams and Heather Watson were knocked out of the competition early, and Barty dominated former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber to reach the finals. So, who is Barty and what kind of threat does Plíšková pose?
Ashley Barty: ranked world no. 1
OK, let’s start by stating that while this might be Barty’s first foray at a Wimbledon final, she’s not an unknown in the tennis world. The Aussie player is the current world No. 1, and she began playing tennis aged four. Interestingly, however, she took a break from the sport at 16 – an age at which most players are ramping up their training and output in preparation for joining the tennis tour.
Barty, however, decided to start playing cricket (at a top level) and only returned to tennis in 2016. By 2017, she’d already won her first WTA title.
The fact that she’s now in the final is made even more incredibly by virtue of the fact that she had to retire from the French Open earlier this summer with a hip injury.
Karolína Plíšková: ranked world no. 13
This final is going to a meeting of greats; Karolína Plíšková is a former singles world No. 1, having reached the top of the Women’s Tennis Association rankings back in 2017.
She reached her first Grand Slam final at the 2016 US Open where she defeated Angelique Kerber (another former No. 1) in three sets. This is her first Wimbledon final.
Which tennis players did they beat to get here?
Ajla Tomljanović: ranked world no. 78
The 28-year-old Croatia-born Australian won the first set against Raducanu in her last match of Wimbledon before the Brit had to retire due to breathing difficulties. Tomljanović’s won four singles and three doubles titles on the IFT Circuit. While she’s yet to win a tournament on the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) circuit, she reached a career high ranking of 39 in 2019.
Born in Zagreb, she switched national allegiances from Croatia to Australia in 2014, and was granted Australian citizenship in January 2018.
Pub quiz fact: her ex-boyfriend is fellow Wimbledon start, Nick Kyrogios
Angelique Kerber: ranked world no. 28
Former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber hails from Germany, which she represented at the 2016 Olympics (winning silver). One of the most accomplished players currently battling it out on the grass down in SW19, Kerber’s already won 13 career singles titles across all surfaces. Her motivation to get into tennis in the first place? Legendary German tennis player Steffi Graf.
Ons Jabeur: ranked world no. 24
Jabeaur hails from Tunisia; at the 2020 Australian Open, she became the first Arab woman to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. She’s also the highest ranking Arab player in WTA history and the current No. 1 African player.
In 2019, she was named Arab Woman of the Year in Sports. Oh, and she’s still just 26.
Aryna Sabalenka: ranked world no. 4
The Belarusian player has been a top five player in both singles and doubles, ranked as high as world No. 4 for singles and 1 in doubles by the WTA.
She’s really risen to prominence since 2017, when she led the Belarus Fed Cup team to a second place. Since then, she’s gone on to win at numerous competitions. She’s know for her aggressive style of play.
Coco Gauff: ranked world no. 23
Coco Gauff is just 17, making her the youngest player in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) top 100 rankings. In 2019, the Atlanta-based player won a wildcard to play at Wimbledon, where she became the youngest player in the tournament’s history to qualify for the main draw. Elsewhere, she reached the third round of the 2019 US Open, fourth round at last year’s Australia Open and the quarterfinal of this year’s French Open. She’s spoken before at how her interest in tennis was sparked by watching Serena Williams win the 2009 Australian Open on TV.
Garbiñe Muguruza: ranked world no. 13
At 27, Muguruza is a Wimbledon veteran, having lifted the winning plate back in 2017. As well as smashing out eight singles titles, she’s also an accomplished doubles player (she’s won five titles so far). Shortly after taking the Wimbledon title four years ago, she announced that she was becoming an ambassador for the international education NGO Room to Read, which promotes gender equality in education in the global south.
Kristie Ahn: ranked world no. 87
In 2019, Ahn became the first Asian American women to make it as far as the fourth round of the US Open since 2000. Before turning pro, she played tennis for Stanford University and in more recent years, she’s been doing the rounds at all the major competitions.
Eden Silva: ranked world no. 126 (doubles)
One of the last female Brits standing, Silva was competing in the Women’s doubles at this year’s Wimbledon. She’s spoken previously to Stylist about the trolling that female athletes receive, noting that she receives racist abuse online whether she’s won or lost her last game. She’s even received death threats aimed at her and her family.
Speaking last year, she called that she had recently received “a really concerning message from a troll that stood out for me more than usual. It said they would find me and break all my fingers and that they would cut my mother’s head off right before my eyes. It worried me so much that I reported it to the police.”
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Miranda Larbi is the editor of Strong Women and Strong Women Training Club. A qualified personal trainer and vegan runner, she can usually be found training for the next marathon, seeking out vegan treats or cycling across London on a pond-green Tokyo bike.
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