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Tennis

It’s A Wombat

Ashleigh Barty holds up a wombat-shaped trophy.
Photo: Jack Thomas/Getty Images

I have always suspected tennis has the finest trophies in all sport. Consider the shapely pear at Acapulco, the elegant plate in Japan, the Rivendell-looking tree in Paris, the medieval weapon in Madrid. That suspicion has been upgraded to absolute certainty after seeing the prize at the inaugural Yarra Valley Classic this weekend. World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, pride of Australia, played her first tournament in nearly a year and took home another pride of Australia: the noble wombat. This little guy was carved out of wood by Indigenous artist Ron Murray, and Barty, who also has Indigenous roots, lifted it up after beating Garbiñe Muguruza 7-6(3), 6-4 in the final on Saturday.

This tournament was part of a slew of ad hoc warm-up events designed to get quarantined players back into match shape before the Australian Open began today. Tragically, we may never see a Yarra Valley Classic again, and we may never see a rotund marsupial on a slab as the reward for world-class athletic feats. So let’s just take a moment to appreciate what we had. Here’s another angle. Look at that wood grain. Those eyes.

Photo: Paul Crock/AFP via Getty Images

Perhaps Australian tennis authorities finally heeded the frequent agitations of a wombat influencer in the space. Or perhaps they simply chose to honor some beloved local fauna that poops cube-shaped poops. I’m cool with either explanation. It’s a wombat.