Evonne Goolagong

Evonne Fay Goolagong Cawley, AO, MBE (born 31 July 1951, in Griffith, New South Wales, Australia) is a former World No. 1 Australian female tennis player. She was one of the world's leading players in the 1970s and early 1980s, when she won 14 Grand Slam titles: seven in singles (four Australian Open, two Wimbledon and one French Open), six in women's doubles, and one in mixed doubles.

Personal life

She was born Evonne Goolagong in 1951 (she became known by the name Evonne Goolagong Cawley following her marriage to the British tennis player Roger Cawley in 1975). She is one of eight children from an Australian Aboriginal family, being a member of the Wiradjuri people. She grew up in the small country town of Barellan, New South Wales. Her father, Kenny Goolagong, was an itinerant sheep shearer. Although Aboriginal people faced widespread discrimination in rural Australia at this time, Evonne was able to play tennis in Barellan from childhood thanks to a kindly resident, Bill Kurtzman, who saw her peering through the fence at the local courts and encouraged her to come in and play. In 1967, the proprietor of a tennis school in Sydney, Vic Edwards, tipped off by two of his assistants, traveled upcountry to take a look at the young Evonne and immediately saw her potential. He convinced her parents to allow Evonne to move to Sydney, where she attended Willoughby Girls High School. Here she completed her School Certificate in 1968 and was at the same time coached by Edwards, living in his household.


After two years training with Edwards in Sydney, Goolagong played at Wimbledon for the first time in 1970, when she was 18. In 1971, she won the women's singles titles at both the French Open and Wimbledon, creating a sensation and becoming an instant celebrity in Australia and around the world. In the Wimbledon final, she defeated Margaret Court, the only other Australian woman ever to win the title. She was the first Australian Aboriginal woman to achieve international fame in sport and the first Aboriginal person to do so in any sport other than football or boxing. In 1971, she was named Australian of the Year and the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.

During the 1970s, Goolagong won the women's singles title at the Australian Open four times. She was also the runner-up at Wimbledon three times. At the US Open, she lost in the final four consecutive years (1973-1976), never winning the title.

Goolagong's final Grand Slam title came at Wimbledon in 1980. By this time, she was a 29-year-old mother and surprised the tennis world by beating Tracy Austin in a semifinal and Chris Evert in the final, to win her second Wimbledon and seventh Grand Slam singles crown. She was the first mother in 66 years to win the Wimbledon singles title, the previous one being English woman Dorothea Lambert-Chambers in 1914.

Goolagong was also a member of the Australian team that won the Fed Cup in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Other notable career achievements included winning the WTA Tour Championships in 1974 and 1976 and the Italian Open in 1973.

Goolagong had excellent physical attributes for a tennis player. She was light, fast, and long-limbed, with lightning reflexes and the ability to cover the court with great agility. At her peak, she was regarded as one of the most graceful and subtle exponents of the women's game ever seen. She was frequently faulted, however, for lapses of concentration that cost her several titles. In the Australian press, this was referred to as "Evonne going walkabout" – an Aboriginal term meaning to wander off into the bush. She relied more on skill and speed than strength and was vulnerable to opponents with big serves and greater power, such as Evert and Billie Jean King.

Goolagong reached the final in 16 of the 24 Grand Slam singles tournaments that were held from 1971 through 1976, winning five of them. Her win-loss record in those finals against the other three then-dominant players was 0–4 against King, 1–3 against Court, and 1–3 against Evert. After losing a 1973 Wimbledon semifinal to King, Goolagong reached the final of 10 of the next 11 Grand Slam singles tournaments she entered for the next five years. Only a quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon in 1974 prevented her from reaching all 11 finals. This run ended with a semifinal loss to Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1978.

Goolagong retired in 1983. Over the course of her career, Goolagong won 68 singles titles and 9 doubles titles. Her career prize-money totalled U.S. $1,399,431.

Following her marriage to Roger Cawley in 1975, Goolagong settled in the United States (in Naples, Florida). This led to some criticism in Australia. After living in the U.S. for eight years, the couple bought a home at Noosa Heads, Queensland, in 1991, where they settled with their two children — daughter Kelly (born 1977) and son Morgan (born 1981).

In 1988, Goolagong was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Goolagong was awarded an MBE in 1972 and made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1982.

Goolagong was a member of the Board of the Australian Sports Commission from 1995 to 1997 and since 1997 has held the position of Sports Ambassador to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities.

Since 2000, Goolagong has made an increasing commitment to Australian women's tennis, which has fallen on hard times in terms of the glamour international events, and was appointed captain of the Australian Fed Cup team in 2002. In 2003, she was winner for the Oceania region of the International Olympic Committee's 2003 Women and Sports Trophy.

World No. 1

Many tennis writers and publications ranked Goolagong as World No. 1 for 1971, including Björn Hellberg of Tennis Tingling, Joseph Macauley of World Tennis magazine, Lance Tingay of the Daily Telegraph, L'Equipe, and Rex Bellamy of The Times. Bud Collins of the Boston Globe and Rino Tomassi ranked Goolagong second, after Billie Jean King.

Although she played at her highest level in the early-to-mid 1970s, the WTA computer, which began in 1973, did not list her as ever holding the World No. 1 ranking until 2007. In December 2007, the WTA realized that the rankings for 1976 were miscalculated. When the records were corrected, the WTA announced that Goolagong had briefly supplanted Chris Evert as World No. 1 following Goolagong's victory at the 1976 Virginia Slims of Los Angeles tournament. Goolagong held the top ranking from 26 April 1976, through 9 May 1976, after which Evert reassumed that ranking.

Grand Slam singles finals

Wins (7)

Year Championship Opponent in Final Score in Final
1971 French Open Helen Gourlay Cawley 6–3, 7–5
1971 Wimbledon Margaret Court 6–4, 6–1
1974 Australian Open Chris Evert 7–6, 4–6, 6–0
1975 Australian Open (2) Martina Navrátilová 6–3, 6–2
1976 Australian Open (3) Renáta Tomanová 6–2, 6–2
1977 Australian Open (December) (4) Helen Gourlay Cawley 6–3, 6–0
1980 Wimbledon (2) Chris Evert 6–1, 7–6

Runner-ups (11)

Year Championship Opponent in Final Score in Final
1971 Australian Open Margaret Court 2–6, 7–6, 7–5
1972 Australian Open Virginia Wade 6–4, 6–4
1972 French Open Billie Jean King 6–3, 6–3
1972 Wimbledon Billie Jean King 6–3, 6–3
1973 Australian Open Margaret Court 6–4, 7–5
1973 US Open Margaret Court 7–6, 5–7, 6–2
1974 US Open Billie Jean King 3–6, 6–3, 7–5
1975 Wimbledon Billie Jean King 6–0, 6–1
1975 US Open Chris Evert 5–7, 6–4, 6–2
1976 Wimbledon Chris Evert 6–3, 4–6, 8–6
1976 US Open Chris Evert 6–3, 6–0

Grand Slam women's doubles finals

Wins (6)

Year Championship Partner Opponents in Final Score in Final
1971 Australian Open Margaret Court Jill Emmerson
Lesley Hunt
6–0, 6–0
1974 Australian Open (2) Peggy Michel Kerry Harris
Kerry Melville Reid
7–5 6–3
1974 Wimbledon Peggy Michel Karen Krantzcke
Helen Gourlay Cawley
2–6, 6–4, 6–3
1975 Australian Open (3) Peggy Michel Olga Morozova
Margaret Court
7–6, 7–6
1976 Australian Open (4) Helen Gourlay Cawley Renata Tomanova
Lesley Turner Bowrey
1977 Australian Open (December) (5) Helen Gourlay Cawley Kerry Melville Reid
Mona Schallau Guerrant
Shared championship - final not played

Grand Slam mixed doubles finals

Win (1)

Year Championship Partner Opponents in Final Score in Final
1972 French Open Kim Warwick Françoise Durr
Jean Claude Barclay
6–2, 6–4

Runner-up (1)

Year Championship Partner Opponents in Final '''Score in Final
1972 Wimbledon Kim Warwick Rosemary Casals
Ilie Năstase
6–4, 6–4

Grand Slam singles tournament timeline

Tournament 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 Career SR
Australia 3R 3R 2R QF F F F W W W A / W A A 2R QF 2R A 4 / 14
French Open A A A A W F SF A A A A A A A A A 3R 1 / 4
Wimbledon A A A 2R W F SF QF F F A SF SF W A 2R A 2 / 11
US Open A A A A A 3R F F F F A A QF A A A A 0 / 6
SR 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 2 2 / 3 0 / 4 0 / 4 1 / 3 1 / 3 1 / 3 1 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 2 1 / 2 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 1 7 / 35

A = did not participate in the tournament.

SR = the ratio of the number of Grand Slam singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played.

Note: The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December. Goolagong won the December edition.

See also

Singles titles (68)

  • 1970 – Southport, Hampstead, Newport-Wales, Hoylake, Leicester, Munich
  • 1971 – French Open, Wimbledon, NSW Sydney Hardcourts, Christchurch, Sutton, Guildford, Midland Open, Melbourne, Hilversum, Dewar-Edinburgh, Dewar-Torquay
  • 1972 – Adelaide (January), Perth, South African Open, Bournemouth, Dublin, Canadian Open, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide (December)
  • 1973 – B&H New Zealand, US Indoors, Italian Open, Lee-on-Solent, Cincinnati, Canadian Open, Charlotte, Japan Open, Hilton Head Invitational
  • 1974 – Australian Open, WTA Tour Championships, VS Denver, Queensland, NSW Sydney, New Zealand Open
  • 1975 – Australian Open, New Zealand Open, VS Detroit, Sydney-NSW;
  • 1976 – Australian Open, WTA Tour Championships, VS Chicago, VS Akron, VS Dallas, VS Boston, VS Philadelphia, World Invitational Hilton Head
  • 1977 – Australian Open (December), Colgate Sydney, Melbourne, NSW Sydney
  • 1978 – VS Hollywood, VS Dallas, VS Boston, Beckenham, Surbtion, Chichester
  • 1979 – US Indoors, Florida Federal Open, Beckenham, Chichester
  • 1980 – Wimbledon


External links

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