Carla Suarez Navarro bids farewell to Wimbledon in style as she produces battling display in defeat by world No 1 Ashleigh Barty in just her second match since recovering from cancer
- World No 1 Ashleigh Barty held off a spirited Carla Suarez Navarro at Wimbledon
- The Spaniard was playing in just her second match since recovering from cancer
- She was given a standing ovation by the Centre Court crowd as she left the court
- Barty recovered back from a second set set back to win the match 6-1, 6-7, 6-1
She didn’t linger to take in the affection of Centre Court, merely gathering her kit and walking away with a fleeting last glance around it. But Carla Suarez Navarro will always know that the quality of her tennis matched the occasion.
It is only two months since she announced she was in remission from Hodgkin lymphoma, after eight sessions of chemotherapy. And this was only her second match in 18 months, in what will be her farewell season in tennis.
Her pairing with World No 1 Ashleigh Barty had provided more proof that there is seldom room for sentiment in elite sport. If that was not enough of a challenge, rain intervened as Suarez Navarro served at deuce in the fourth game, the 16-minute delay shattering her fragile search for momentum.
World No 1 Ashleigh Barty held off a spirited Carla Suarez Navarro in her farewell at Wimbledon
The Spaniard was playing in just her second match since she announced she was in remission from Hodgkin lymphoma
Two minutes after the restart, the first break — and effectively the first set — was Barty’s.
What happened next will remain in Wimbledon’s collective memory long after Suarez Navarro has left tennis behind.
The 32-year-old started to hit the ball harder, crimson with the effort. Though Barty broke and served for the match, Suarez Navarro defined that second set.
Her cross-court return from the backhand side for the break point she won to level the set at 5-5 was the pick of her shots. It took her to a tiebreak that she was destined to win.
Barty capitalised on her superior mobility in the decisive third set.
Barty recovered back from a second set set back to win the match 6-1, 6-7, 6-1 on Centre Court
She was given a standing ovation by the Centre Court crowd and Barty as she left the court
From Suarez Navarro, though, there was one last statement for Centre Court: two forehand passing shots to ensure that her last set here brought at least one game in her favour.
As the Spaniard marched away, Barty stood, paused and applauded her. ‘I cannot ask for anything else better than this day,’ Suarez Navarro said on Tuesday night.
‘I am the most happy player in the tournament, for sure. One of my last matches, here against Ash on Centre Court. Amazing.’