January 28, 2023
Aryna Sabalenka lay on her back quivering and crying as the crowd went wild.
It was the first time she had allowed herself to be anything other than the fearsome tiger tattooed on the inside of her left forearm.
Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina understood her emotions completely. She was so gracious as she came round the net to embrace the woman who had just beaten her.
Sabalenka came back to win one of the great Grand Slam finals of modern times 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The tennis became a titanic clash of wills and so much more spectacular than the tame score-line suggests.
Aryna Sabalenka will bring incredible drama to Wimbledon 2023 after clinching her first major.
And don’t forget the amazing Rybakina will come to defend her All England Club title with grace and conviction.
Have women ever hit the ball so hard at key moments of a showpiece match? We were all in awe of this magnificent spectacle in Melbourne.
Sabalenka simply refused to be denied. She deserved all the acclaim.
And we should also be in awe of Britain’s Alfie Hewett, who has notched an historic double triumph in the wheelchair tennis.
He beat young sensation Tokito Oda from Japan 6-3, 6-1 to lift the Australian Open singles title after losing his last two finals here.
And it wasn’t as straightforward as it sounded because Alfie trailed 1-3 in the first set against an inspirational sixteen-year-old.
Hewett is now in dreamland after taking the doubles title too, alongside Gordon Reid.
Together they defeated Dutch duo Maikel Scheffers and Ruben Spaargaren 6-1, 6-2.
Alfie said of his singles achievement. ‘I can’t really describe it at the moment. Third time lucky!’
As for the Wimbledon women’s champion, she was already looking ahead rather than reflecting on her disappointment.
Rybakina said: ‘Congratulations Aryna and hopefully we’re going to have many more battles.’
How great would it be to see Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina produce a scintillating slugfest like this at Wimbledon 2023?
Sabalenka replied: ‘Congratulations Elena hopefully we’ll have many more battles in Grand Slam finals.’
This was such a wonderful advertisement for women’s tennis.
The stars of the women’s game will make for compelling viewing at Wimbledon 2023.
But will you be there to enjoy it with us?