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July 6, 2021

Ashleigh Barty

Wimbledon, London, UK

Press Conference

A. BARTY/A. Tomljanovic

6-1, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You said on court this is a dream. Can you just expand on that and talk about what your emotions are like, how good this feels to be in the semifinals of Wimbledon for the first time, and the first Australian woman to do it since Jelena in 2000.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, like I said, this is my dream. I'm in an extremely fortunate position that I'm getting to do what I love, getting to do what I dreamt as a kid. So I think I've just got a whole lot of gratitude for the fact that I get to come out here and do what I love.

The world, the way we're living at the moment, I think it's incredible that we're able to play, compete, have people enjoy it with us. So I'm certainly enjoying every single minute that I get out on those courts.

Q. How important was it for you to get up to a very solid start against Ajla, put the pressure on? She's not played on Centre Court before. She said she did feel a little bit intimidated out there.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I think it was important. Obviously it was something that I wanted to do is to start well. But also not making a massive, massive emphasis on the start, allowing myself to not panic if things didn't start overly well.

It was just working my way in, like we always do, not putting any more emphasis on any point or any situation. It just kind of is what it is. Each and every one, I just wanted to try and play as I could with as much clarity and freedom as I could.

Q. You're very used to playing in front of home fans and expectation in Australia, especially the Australian Open. Is it very different when you play at Wimbledon, trying to win the Wimbledon title, despite the history of Australian tennis? Is it a bit easier for you to cope with not having all the attention on you every day?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I mean, I don't find it challenging anywhere in the world. I think I'm extremely lucky to get a lot of support all around the world. As Australian tennis players, we're in one of the few countries that are a Grand Slam nation. Without a doubt it adds to the excitement, it adds to the calendar that we do have a tournament in our own backyard.

For me it's not a fact of liking it, disliking it, being overwhelmed. It makes it fun. It's enjoyable. To have people enjoying the tennis with me, with us on the court, makes it all the more fun because I think there are memories on tennis courts. Some are heartbreaking and some you never forget.

But having an atmosphere really, really makes it extra special. I think sometimes winning or losing matches doesn't matter. You remember the atmosphere. You remember kind of those feelings on court as opposed to the results.

Q. Are you aware of how much your progress has been followed back home? You're front page, on the TV, et cetera. Are you in touch with that?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I'm in touch with my family. I know that they're watching. That to me is all that matters. I know the people that I love and the people that love me back are watching. They're living through this journey with me.

I love the fact that Australians at home, the fans, are able to get behind all of us that are here. But I don't read the papers. I don't see that white noise as such. I don't read it. It doesn't faze me. It's not something that I focus on.

So to kind of answer your question, it's almost irrelevant to me.

Q. You're up against Angelique now in the semifinal. She's a player who's won here. She knows how to win this tournament. Does that enter into your thinking? A very experienced player who knows how to win, is that going to be a factor?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Of course it is. It adds to the challenge. Angie obviously has an incredible record here. She's made multiple finals. She's one of the best grass courters going around. I think the challenge of playing her in a semifinal of Wimbledon is an incredible opportunity, one that I'm really excited for.

It's not scary or overwhelming, it's just exciting. It's exciting to have the challenge of playing someone who is comfortable on these courts, who knows how to win this tournament.

Q. I want to take you back to I think it was 2017 Brisbane, you played Angie, were in the process of coming back, a tough three-setter. After the match it seemed to be a match that mattered to you in terms of your performance, resetting and recalibrating your expectations at that stage of your comeback. Can you talk about what you remember from that match and what it meant to you?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I remember that match well. It was my first final in Australia, in Sydney. I think that match, I think just one break each set in the final. I remember coming off the court and feeling like my level was close, but it wasn't good enough. I was close, but there was that extra step that I needed to take to compete with someone of Angie's caliber in the sense of she doesn't give you cheapies.

She competes for every single point. She's won Grand Slams. She knows how to hang tough in brutal moments. That was almost a bit of a reset knowing I'm not far off, but I'm not there yet.

I think that's the challenge each and every week. I think each time I've played Angie has been through different phases of my career. It's been an exceptional challenge each and every time. Now to be facing each other in a Grand Slam semifinal in a tournament she's won before is an incredible opportunity. I'm really, really excited.

Q. What tactically is the key to Angie's success and your success against her?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I mean, I think we're very different players. Everyone is obviously their own unique player. Tactically they maneuver their way around the court differently.

But, I mean, I think I like to try and use my variety as best I can. I like to use my weapons when I can. I know one of Angie's greatest assets is the fact that she can run and hunt and put the ball in an awkward situation to nullify my aggression and kind of my weapons at times. It's a really fine balance.

It's a match that I know that I need to play my very best tennis to compete with her, particularly on this surface, one that I look forward to as really challenging myself against someone who is really comfortable on these courts, like I said, has won this tournament, knows how to win tough matches, has been playing really well on this surface recently, not just this fortnight. It's a great challenge. It's exciting. I'm looking forward to being in my first semifinal here at Wimbledon.

Q. You mentioned your first semifinal at Wimbledon. How much does this still feel new to you in terms of making these firsts for you? How much feels like you've done it, won a major, been in semifinals before? What is the mix of familiar feeling versus unfamiliar?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, I think it's a bit of a balance because each match is different, each match is a new situation and a match that I can learn from.

But I certainly don't become complacent in any facet of my game thinking I know what's going on. Sport is a wonderful thing in a sense where there's no guarantees, no certainties. That's what makes it so incredible to play and be a part of.

I think each and every opportunity I get to play, I learn. I take it for what it is. I can't do any more than that. I can't think too far ahead or worry about what has happened in the past. It's about focusing on the present moment and the opportunity that I've got. That's all I do.

I don't think there's a sense of me thinking that I'm experienced or inexperienced or whatever it is. It's just taking that moment for what it's worth.

Q. How do you think your performance today looked to be a step up again from what we've seen earlier in the tournament? How do you compare it now to that purple patch you were having in Europe earlier maybe this time last month? It looks as though you really are getting into your very best form.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I feel good. I think obviously play on grass is very different. It's a different surface. The clay season was quite long. As for the grass season for me, it's one tournament, pretty cutthroat. I think it's allowing myself time to feel relaxed on the court, to learn about the surface, to continue to kind of find my rhythm and find my groove on the grass.

But I think today I was able to use my weapons a little bit better and just bring the ball back into my patterns a bit more regularly. I certainly wasn't as loose as I have been with errors and kind of ill-timed lapses, I suppose. But I felt really sharp today. I felt like I knew I needed to bring that level in order to match it with Ajla.

Q. Head-to-head with you and Angie is 2-All. You haven't played since Wuhan in 2018. This is a first time on grass meeting. Whatever's happened before, is it insignificant? Does it matter? Or this is a completely different ballgame because it's been two, three years, a different surface?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: Yeah, it's irrelevant. I think we're both at different phases of our career to where we were each and every time we've played. Of course, we've both learnt from those matches without a doubt. We've probably both grown and adapted as tennis players and become better tennis players.

I think there's that extra challenge of trying to test each other. You go back on those matches and think what worked well, what didn't work well. But also you understand it's a completely fresh slate, it's a new match, a new surface, a new situation. You can't focus on what happened too much. It's about going out there and trying to do as best you can on that given day, and if it's enough, it is. If it's not, it's not. That's kind of all there is to it.

Q. In what circumstances, if at all, have you seen the championship trophy for Wimbledon? What names and impressions did you have about yourself when you looked at it?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I think it's downstairs in like a case before the court entrance. I can't say that I've gone up and kind of peered in. Maybe one day I'll get an opportunity to look at it.

Yeah, I mean, I haven't seen it, no.

Q. How about on TV when a player hoists it at the end? What goes through your mind as you look at it?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I mean, I can't say I've watched too many Wimbledon finals and watched other players lift the trophy. I remember enjoying watching Simona lift up the beautiful trophy that it is a couple of years ago. I mean, aside from like everyone else, you watch it on tele, kind of take it in for what it's worth. Hopefully I'll get close enough to have a good look.

Q. The bubble that you're in, whether you've become more familiar and comfortable with that environment and the coronavirus measures that have been taken, that's kind of reflected in how you've progressed through the tournament, every match getting stronger and more lethal, is that because in any way off the court you're also feeling more comfortable?

ASHLEIGH BARTY: No. The bubble has nothing to do with my tennis performance. I think where we know what the restrictions are, the guidelines are for each and every event, each event is a little bit different, but we put the trust in the health professionals making, creating those guidelines for us to make sure we can play such an event.

I think once I step on the court, what's happening off the court, kind of around, is irrelevant.

Q. When you made your semifinal first time at the French Open, a bunch of new faces in that draw. This time it's a pretty established group. Not a lot of surprise faces in here. How different might that feel as you look around the locker room, see these big A-list players? I know everyone is good, but this is a pretty established group at this point.

ASHLEIGH BARTY: I mean, this tournament, the players left in the draw are the players left in the draw. Like every tournament, everyone has an equal opportunity to do what they do, go out there and enjoy themselves.

That's not something that I ever look at, compare or contrast. It's a different surface, different year, different everything. So incomparable really.

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