"It was a privilege to share the court with her" - Ashleigh Barty after 1R win over Carla Suarez Navarro

Carla Suarez Navarro (facing the camera) and Ashleigh Barty at the net after the match
Carla Suarez Navarro (facing the camera) and Ashleigh Barty at the net after the match

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty was effusive in her praise for Carla Suarez Navarro after recording a 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-1 win over the Spaniard to kickstart her Wimbledon challenge on Tuesday.

Suarez Navarro, who was given the all-clear in April following her battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, returned to the tour at Roland Garros. She put up a brave display in her first round in Paris, stretching Sloane Stephens to three sets.

Against Barty at Wimbledon under the Center Court roof, Suarez Navarro once again left an indelible impression as she fought hard to stay competitive. The Spaniard broke the Australian just as she was serving for the match and then played a fabulous tie-break to force a decider. But she ran out gas in the third set.

Speaking to the media after the match, Barty showered plaudits on the Spaniard for the immense courage and resilience she had shown.

"Carla is one hell of a competitor," said Barty. "It was a privilege to share that moment and the court with her. I hadn't had the opportunity to play Carla before and it was really special to experience what she can bring from the other side of the court.
"All credit goes to her for her resilience. To be able to come back from the adversity the way she have that moment with her was nothing short of remarkable."

Despite the loss, Suarez Navarro walked off the court as a hero. The entire crowd, as well as Barty, applauded her as she left the stadium in what was a touching moment for the Spaniard.

The two also had a wonderful exchange at the net after the match, the details of which Barty revealed in her post-match press conference.

"She deserves nothing but the best," the World No. 1 said. "I told her it was a pleasure to share the court with you. She is an exceptional person, a great fighter, a great competitor and very well loved and respected in the locker room. She will surely be sorely missed.
"I wanted to give her the reception she deserves and the crowd was also exceptional in giving her the reception. I wanted to give her a hug."

Grasscourt tennis has always come naturally to me: Ashleigh Barty

Ashleigh Barty
Ashleigh Barty

Ashleigh Barty's last match before Wimbledon ended with her pulling out of the French Open in the second round after aggravating a hip injury. She then opted not to play in any warm-up event ahead of the grasscourt Major.

However, that has not bothered the former Nottingham and Birmingham champion, who admitted she feels at home on the surface.

"Yeah, it has been a while although today it didn't feel like it was a long time ago," said the 25-year-old. "Grasscourt tennis has always felt like it has come naturally to me. I try to go out there and play the best I can.
"I thought I served well today and was able to control the court. One little hiccup was serving for the match. I will go back and de-brief and find ways to improve."

Barty also admitted she didn't know how her body would react in the first round. However, with a "solid" match under her belt, her confidence will be sky-high ahead of sterner challenges to come.

"I didn't know exactly how my body was going to feel. I thought we did everything we could. You just never know. To be able to go out there and play the way I did, it was really nice. Just a solid match overall," Barty signed off.

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Edited by Arvind Sriram
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