Top seed Ashleigh Barty is all set to commence her 2021 Wimbledon campaign as tennis returns to SW19 after two years.
The Aussie has had a lot of success already this season, winning three WTA titles and cementing her place as the World No. 1. However, she sustained a shoulder injury in Rome which lead to a mid-match retirement from the second round of Roland Garros.
Barty hasn't played a match since then, and enters Wimbledon without any official grass-court matches under her belt.
Nevertheless, Barty is now eyeing the ultimate prize at the All England Club. In her pre-tournament press conference on Saturday, the World No. 1 spoke about her dream of lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish one day.
"One day I would love to be the champion here. It's a dream. It's a goal," Barty said. "Dreams don't always come true, but you can fight and do everything you can to give yourself that opportunity."
The Aussie also shed some light on her progress with rehab, before talking about how she feels about the change from clay to grass.
"I feel like I'm fit, I'm ready to play, I'm excited to play," Barty said. "Straight after Paris, obviously there was some time where we needed to digest what was going on. We needed to get a full diagnosis. We were able to do that, which is a really crucial part of my rehab."
"We've been able to go through the rehab, do what we've needed to do, give ourselves the best chance to play here at Wimbledon," she added. "I'm good to go."
Ashleigh Barty went on to talk about taking inspiration from her countrywoman and mentor Evonne Goolagong. 2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of Goolagong's Wimbledon triumph from 1971.
"It's a really special anniversary for a lot of Australians, but for indigenous Australians in particular I think this is a really special one," Barty said.
Barty will be honoring the Australian tennis legend by wearing an outfit customised for the occasion by her apparel sponsor FILA. The dress has glimpses of Goolagong's iconic scallop dress, which she sported when she won the Venus Rosewater dish.
"For me to be able to wear an outfit inspired by Evonne's iconic scallop dress is really amazing," Barty said. "I think for me, that made me feel a lot more comfortable knowing her favourite dress, probably her most iconic dress, is something that inspired me and inspired our generation of indigenous youth. I hope that my version of it, my outfit, can do the same for the next generation of indigenous youth coming forward."
"I'm extremely excited and humbled to have the honor" - Ashleigh Barty on opening Centre Court proceedings
Since defending champion Simona Halep has withdrawn from the tournament due to injury, the All England Club has decided to bestow the honor of opening Centre Court proceedings on Tuesday upon Ashleigh Barty. The Aussie expressed her gratitude about that, calling it a "privilege" and an "honor".
"I'm extremely excited and humbled to have the privilege and to have the honor," Barty said. "I hope I can go out there on a really special occasion for Australian tennis with Evonne's 50th anniversary. I think it's going to be a really special moment and one that I'm certainly looking forward to."
Barty also spoke a few words of support for her first-round opponent Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard, who successfully fought off cancer earlier this year, has announced that she will bid farewell to tennis at the end of 2021.
"It's incredible to have Carla back," the World No. 1 said. "Just to see her back here doing what she loves has brought a smile to not only my face but all the other players."