When Ashleigh Barty lifted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in front of her heroine Evonne Goolagong Cawley and an enraptured home crowd in January, it was the stuff of fairytales.
Now the Queenslander’s feat in becoming the first Australian singles champion for 44 years is one of several Australian Open memories that have been nominated as “Iconic Moments in Tennis” by the prestigious International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Voting is open until midnight US Eastern Time on 30 April (1 May in Australia) and fans can vote online via tennisfame.com/vote.
Barty’s win over Danielle Collins has been named in the “Moment of National Pride” category, alongside Andy Murray’s historic 2013 victory at Wimbledon, Maria Bueno becoming a national hero in her native Brazil by winning the 1959 Wimbledon title and Li Na’s feat in becoming the first Chinese player to lift a Grand Slam singles trophy at Roland Garros in 2011.
Barty’s fellow Australian wheelchair player David Hall is also nominated for his Paralympic gold medal in singles at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The 2022 men’s Australian Open final also gets a mention, with Rafael Nadal’s hard-fought victory over Daniil Medvedev listed as one of the best ever comebacks in a match.
Many Australian Open fans will also remember Jennifer Capriati’s epic fightback against Martina Hingis 20 years earlier, in the baking hot women’s final of 2002. That also made International Tennis Hall of Fame’s list, along with Pete Sampras’s emotional rollercoaster 1995 quarter-final against Courier, which was played not long after Sampras had been told that his coach Tim Gullickson had terminal cancer. Despite looking spent, a tearful Sampras somehow found a way to win in tribute to his friend and mentor.
The Australian Open also features heavily in the “Most Iconic Celebration” category, with Petr Korda’s famous ‘scissor kick’ and Jim Courier’s bold leap into a muddy Yarra River both nominated. Australian Pat Cash’s famous climb into the Players’ Box at Wimbledon after his 1987 win – much copied since – is also among the celebrations named.
Other categories of Iconic Moments in Tennis include “Most Epic Rivalry”, where fans are asked to choose between beloved rivalries – many of which were played out in Melbourne – such as Nadal and Roger Federer and Chris Evert against Martina Navratilova.
“Best Cinderella Story”, meanwhile, pits fan favourite Kim Clijsters winning the US Open as a mum against Emma Raducanu’s miraculous run to become the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam singles title at the same tournament last year.
Barty is certainly in some fine company. Hers, like so many other of the iconic moments tennis is lucky enough to have witnessed, was a fairytale worth retelling.
Australian Lleyton Hewitt, winner of two career Grand Slam titles, an Australian Open runner-up and a former World No.1, is due to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July.