PARIS • Ashleigh Barty claimed her maiden Grand Slam title when she crushed Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-3 yesterday to become the first Australian woman in 46 years to win the French Open singles title.
The 23-year-old joins 1969, 1970 and 1973 champion Margaret Court and 1971 winner Evonne Goolagong-Cawley on the list of Australian women who have lifted the trophy in the professional era.
She is also the first Australian to win a Grand Slam since Samantha Stosur's US Open triumph in 2011.
"It's unbelievable. I'm a little bit speechless. I played the perfect match today. I'm so proud of myself and my team. It's been a crazy two weeks," the eighth seed said on court after the 70-minute match.
"I was very nervous. Marketa's had an amazing season. She's only just started her climb. She'll be in more Grand Slam finals I'm sure.
"It's a special place for Australian players, so I'm incredibly proud of what I've been able to achieve and it's been an incredible two weeks."
Barty, who famously took a break from tennis to play professional cricket in 2015, struck 27 winners past an opponent riddled with nerves.
She raced to a 4-0 lead before breezing through the opening set, taking full advantage of 19-year-old Vondrousova's early jitters.
The Czech, who was hoping to become the first teenager to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup since Iva Majoli in 1997, offered more of a challenge in the second set, but Barty was always in control.
Vondrousova then turned to riskier strategies - her drop shots became finer, her drives more firmly struck - but the irrevocable damage had been done.
When Barty slammed a short smash high into the stands, it was all over.
"First of all, congrats Ash and your team, you gave me a lesson today," the world No. 38, who had 22 unforced errors and a mere 10 winners, said with a smile in front of the Philippe Chatrier crowd at the trophy presentation.
"You're an amazing player and you're such a nice person, so you deserve this. Even though I didn't get the win today, I enjoyed my time here and am happy with everything that happened here."
Barty will rise to second in the world behind two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka of Japan when the latest rankings are released this week.
She will also be the best-ranked Australian woman since Goolagong-Cawley became world No. 1 in 1976.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE