Evonne Goolagong Cawley

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Evonne Fay Goolagong Cawley AC MBE (born 31 July 1951), known as Evonne Goolagong in her earlier career, is an Australian former world No. 1 tennis player. She was one of the world's leading players in the 1970s and early 1980s, and the number one Australian pro on tour after the retirement of Margaret Court. At the age of 19, Goolagong won the French Open singles crown and the Australian Open doubles championships (with Margaret Court). She followed those up with a victory in the ladies singles at Wimbledon on 2 July, 1971.[1] In 1980, she became the first mother to win Wimbledon in 66 years. Goolagong would go on to win 14 Grand Slam tournament titles: seven in singles (four at the Australian Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the French Open), six in women's doubles, and one in mixed doubles. She represented Australia in three Fed Cup competitions, winning the title in 1971, 1973 and 1974, and was Fed Cup captain for three consecutive years.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley
Evonne Goolagong 1971.jpg
Goolagong Cawley at the 1971 Dutch Open
Full nameEvonne Fay Goolagong
Country (sports) Australia
Born (1951-07-31) 31 July 1951 (age 69)
Griffith, New South Wales, Australia
Height1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Prize moneyUS $1,399,431
Int. Tennis HoF1988 (member page)
Career record704–165 (81.0%)
Career titles86 during the open era)
Highest rankingNo. 1 (1971)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenW (1974, 1975, 1976, 1977Dec)
French OpenW (1971)
WimbledonW (1971, 1980)
US OpenF (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976)
Other tournaments
Tour FinalsW (1974, 1976)
Career record18–16
Career titles46
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian OpenW (1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977Dec)
French OpenSF (1971)
WimbledonW (1974)
US OpenSF (1972, 1973, 1974)
Mixed doubles
Career titles1
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
French OpenW (1972)
WimbledonF (1972)
Team competitions
Fed CupW (1971, 1973, 1974)

Goolagong was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1972 and Officer of the Order of Australia in 1982. She was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1988. Tennis Australia has appointed Goolagong as an "Ambassador for the Sport of Tennis in Australia."[2]

Since 2005, she has run the Goolagong National Development Camp for Indigenous boys and girls, to help promote better health, education and employment.

In the New South Wales town Barellan, where she grew up, there is a giant tennis racquet erected with her name on it. The racquet, which was unveiled in Evonne Goolagong Park in October 2009 during the Barellan Centenary celebrations, is an exact 20:1 scale model of her signature wooden Dunlop racquet.

Early lifeEdit

Born Evonne Fay Goolagong, she is the third of eight children[3] from an Australian Aboriginal (Wiradjuri) family.[4] Her father, Ken Goolagong, was an itinerant sheep shearer and her mother, Melinda, was a homemaker. Evonne was born in Griffith, New South Wales, and grew up in the small country town of Barellan. Although Aboriginal people faced widespread discrimination in rural Australia at this time, Goolagong was able to play tennis in Barellan from childhood thanks to a local resident, Bill Kurtzman, who saw her peering through the fence at the local courts and encouraged her to come in and play.[5] In 1965, Vic Edwards, the proprietor of a tennis school in Sydney, was tipped off by two of his assistants, travelled to Barellan to take a look at the young Goolagong, and immediately saw her potential. He persuaded Goolagong's parents to allow her 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 and lived in his household, with Edwards becoming her legal guardian, coach and manager.

Career and Grand Slam successEdit

With seven championships, Goolagong is 12th on the women's list of all-time singles Grand Slam winners, and ended her career with 82 singles titles. She took singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon. She never won at the US Open. She won seven Grand Slam singles titles in her career, reaching a total of 18 Grand Slam singles finals. During the 1970s, she played in 17 Grand Slam singles finals, a period record for any player, man or woman. From her first Grand Slam singles final appearance in January 1971, to December 1977 when she won her last Grand Slam title of the 1970s, she played in 21 Grand Slam events. Her only four defeats prior to the finals came at the 1972 US Open in the third round; 1974 Wimbledon, where she was defeated in the quarterfinals; and at the semifinal stage at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 1973. To start the decade, she was defeated at the 1970 Australian Open in the quarterfinals and in the second round of the 1970 Wimbledon. In 1971, 1975, 1976 and 1977, Goolagong reached the final of every Grand Slam championship in which she competed. Between 1973 and 1977, she reached the final of almost every Grand Slam singles event she entered. The exceptions were: Roland Garros, where she lost to Margaret Court Smith in the semifinals in 1973; and Wimbledon, where she played in only two finals in that period, 1975 and 1976, losing both; she lost in 1973 to eventual champion Billie Jean King in the semifinals; and in 1974 to Australian Kerry Melville at the quarterfinal stage; she did not enter in 1977, the year her daughter was born. Also in 1974, she teamed up with Peggy Michel to win the ladies' doubles title. She won the women's doubles title at the Australian Open five times and in Roland Garros once, as well as mixed doubles at Roland Garros once.

Following her victory at the season-ending WTA Championships in 1976[6]—known at the time as the Virginia Slims Championships—her seventh tournament victory of the year, Goolagong continued to play on the WTA Tour until 1983, but never again played a full season. After her victory over Chris Evert in the WTA Championships, she only played in three competitive tournaments for the remainder of 1976, losing in both finals to Evert (Wimbledon and US Open) and the Sydney quarterfinals in November, which she played while four months pregnant. She focused instead on WTT Team Tennis and exhibition events.

Goolagong realised during the 1976 US Open final that she was pregnant and after one more tournament for the year, she did not play again on the regular tour until the summer of 1977, continuing through to Wimbledon 1978. 1976 had been her best season to date, winning seven titles, rising to number one in the world and losing only to Chris Evert, which she did five times and once to Dianne Fromholtz in Sydney, which she played in the second trimester of her pregnancy. No other players were able to score a victory over her in the year.

After attempting a comeback in the summer of 1977, Goolagong decided to wait for the Australian season beginning later in the year for a full return. Her return to the tour proper kick-started a highly successful run of play, during which she won ten tournaments including the Australian Open in a run of five consecutive tournament wins and reached the final in two others, including the season-ending WTA Championships, where she lost to Martina Navratilova.

At the Virginia Slims of Boston in March 1978, Goolagong beat both Martina Navratilova & Chris Evert back-to-back to win the title. It was her only post pregnancy victory over Navratilova and one of only two she scored over Evert. Prior to her first pregnancy, Goolagong lead Navratilova 11–4 in their rivalry, but she lost 11 of their 12 matches after her daughter was born to trail 12–15 at the end of her career. From being un-ranked at the beginning of her return, Goolagong's ranking rose to No. 3 in the world, but during Wimbledon 1978, a career-threatening ankle injury forced her to miss the remainder of 1978 (other than an exhibition event played in December) and she did not return to competitive play until March 1979, when she won four tournaments and ended the year ranked No. 4 in the world.

Injuries at the beginning of 1980 kept her away from the tour for many weeks in the first six months of the year and only reached three finals, but she returned in triumph at Wimbledon, yet only played three further tournaments and the exhibition Lion's Cup for the remainder of the year after her final Grand Slam victory. For her Wimbledon triumph, Cawley beat four top ten players (Hana Mandlíková #9, Wendy Turnbull #6, Tracy Austin #2 and Chris Evert #3), the only champion in Wimbledon history to do so. She also beat two former Grand Slam finalists in earlier rounds, Sharon Walsh and Betty Stöve, also becoming the first champion to have dropped three sets in the championship. She withdrew from the US Open, where she had been seeded fourth, due to a recurring back injury and the early stages of her second pregnancy, although she did play the Lion's Cup (losing to Evert) and the Australian Open championships at the end of the year, despite being four and five months pregnant respectively. Other players, notably Wendy Turnbull, publicly decried the decision by Tennis Australia to pay Goolagong an appearance fee to compete at the Australian Open from 1980 onwards. Goolagong defended the decision to accept the fees to compete in her later autobiography.[7]

Goolagong was then absent for almost all of 1981, returning to tournament play in Australia towards the end of the year and reaching the quarterfinals of the only two tournaments she played for the year, losing to Evert in Sydney, and at the Australian Open to Navratilova. Her comeback wasn't consistent and she didn't play again until March 1982 when she pushed Evert to three sets and beat reigning French Open champion Hana Mandlikova in the Citizen Cup played on clay in March 1982.

Cawley played at Wimbledon 1982, where she was given a protected seeding of 16th by the All England Club, but lost her only match to Zina Garrison. For the remainder of the year, Cawley reached just one singles final at Sydney, where she lost in three sets to Navratilova, but despite the lack of play, ended the year ranked 17th and was given a spot in the WTA season ending championship, where she lost to Navratilova.

In 1983, she failed to reach the quarter final of any event and played her last singles tournament event at the French Open, were she lost to Evert in the third round, withdrawing from the Edgbaston Cup and Wimbledon. Despite not playing the singles, she partnered Sue Barker in the Wimbledon doubles event, losing in the first round, her last Grand Slam appearance.

She is the only mother to have won the Wimbledon title since Dorothea Lambert Chambers in 1914. Married to Roger Cawley in 1975, she had a daughter in 1977.

Goolagong reached four consecutive US Open singles finals, from 1973 to 1976, but lost them all. She is the only player in U.S. Championships history to have lost four consecutive finals.[8] Goolagong made seven consecutive finals at the Australian Open, winning three titles in a row. Despite reaching the final at her first two appearances in 1971 and 1972, after 1973 Goolagong did not compete at the Roland Garros for a decade. The French Tennis Federation banned all World Team Tennis contracted players from the 1974 event, with the player's unions instigating legal action against the French authorities. As Jimmy Connors and Goolagong were the reigning Australian Open champions, they spearheaded the legal action as they were being deprived of the opportunity to attain the tennis calendar Grand Slam as a result of the decision. Connors admitted this was a huge distraction and later wrote both he and Goolagong were "hung out to dry".[9] Goolagong boycotted the event even after the ban was lifted, but returned in 1983 for her final Grand Slam singles appearance. She lost in the last thirty-two to Chris Evert and did not compete in any further Grand Slam singles events. Her last appearance at Grand Slam level came at the following 1983 Wimbledon Championships when she partnered Sue Barker to a first-round defeat in the doubles, having withdrawn from the singles event earlier.

Her career win-loss percentage was 81.01% (704–165). Her win-loss performance in all Grand Slam singles tournaments was 82.09% (133–29), at the French Open 84.21% (16–3), at Wimbledon 83.33% (50–10), at the US Open 81.25% (26–6), and at the Australian Open 80.39% (41–10).

Goolagong was ranked No. 1 in the world in women's tennis for two weeks in 1976, but it was not reported at the time because incomplete data was used to calculate the rankings. This was discovered in December 2007, 31 years later. She was the second woman to hold the top spot, but the 16th at the time she was finally recognized.[10]

Life after touringEdit

Beginning during her playing days, Goolagong endorsed many products and appeared in numerous television and print commercials, extending these further once she retired from competitive play. Her various commercials included KFC (in which she appeared with her husband Roger),[11] Geritol[12] and Sears[13], where she also promoted her own sports clothing brand 'Go Goolagong'[14].

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

In 1990, Goolagong began to play in senior invitational competitions, returning to Wimbledon to compete in the inaugural ladies senior invitational doubles, alongside compatriot Kerry Melville Reid.[15]

Goolagong spent some time as a touring professional at the Hilton Head Racquet Club in South Carolina before returning to Australia.[16]

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. She 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". She also runs an annual "Goolagong National Development Camp", with the aim of encouraging Aboriginal children to stay in school through playing competitive tennis.[17]

Awards and recognitionEdit

Evonne Goolagong Park, Barellan
The "big" tennis racquet at Barellan, New South Wales, commemorates the achievements of Evonne Goolagong.

Goolagong was awarded Australian of the Year in 1971.[18] She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1972 and made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1982. In 1985 she was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.[19] In 1988, Goolagong was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 2018 she was advanced to a Companion of the Order of Australia "for eminent service to tennis as a player at the national and international level, as an ambassador, supporter and advocate for the health, education and wellbeing of young Indigenous people through participation in sport, and as a role model".[20]

In 1972, she played in a segregated South African tournament. To spare her the discrimination experienced by non-whites, the South African authorities classified her as an honorary white.[21]

In 1978 and 1980, she was awarded the WTA Sportsmanship Award.

The Evonne Goolagong Cawley Trophy, awarded to the female champion at the Brisbane International, is named in her honour.[22]

In 1993, the State Transit Authority named a RiverCat ferry in Sydney after her. This rivercat travels daily from Parramatta to Circular Quay.

The National Museum of Australia holds the Evonne Goolagong Cawley collection of memorabilia. This includes her 1971 and 1980 Wimbledon singles trophies, the trophy from her 1974 doubles win and two racquets used in these tournaments. The museum's collection also includes a signed warm-up jacket and a dress with a bolero style top designed by Ted Tinling in the early 1970s.[23]

In 2001, Goolagong was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women for her achievements as a tennis player.[24]

In February 2016, she and ten fellow Australian tennis players were honoured by Australia Post as the recipients of the 2016 Australia Post Legends Award and appeared on a postage stamp set named Australian Legends of Singles Tennis.[25][26]

In April 2016, Goolagong was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of South Australia in recognition of her distinguished service to the community.[27]

In June 2018, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) presented her with its highest accolade, the Philippe Chatrier Award for her contributions to tennis.[28]

Personal lifeEdit

When Victor Edwards became her coach, Goolagong went to live with him and his family and he became her legal guardian as well as her coach and manager. Goolagong later revealed that Edwards made sexual advances to her and when she met Roger Cawley in 1971, their relationship became very strained, yet she was legally tied to Edwards, who controlled every aspect of her career and finances, until her marriage in 1975[29].

While competing in the doubles event of the Wimbledon warm-up event in Eastbourne (she did not enter the singles competition), Goolagong married former junior British tennis player Roger Cawley in London, on 19 June 1975.[30] She continued in the doubles tournament, losing two days later in the final partnering with Peggy Michel. As the draw had already taken place prior to the marriage ceremony, Wimbledon was unable to record her entry as Mrs R.A. Cawley in the official draw sheet until the second round. She severed all contact with Victor Edwards at this juncture, although he remained her official coach for Wimbledon 1975, with Edwards sitting on the opposite side of the players box from Roger Cawley at her matches, despite he and his protege no longer being on speaking terms. Cawley became her coach, hitting partner and manager from their marriage onward.[31] Following her wedding, she settled in Naples, Florida.

Goolagong's father Ken was killed in a car crash in 1974, shortly after Victor Edwards had refused to release any of her money to purchase a new family vehicle when requested.[32] Her mother Melinda died in 1983 and, intrigued by meeting so many indigenous Australian relatives at the funeral whom she had never known, after living in the U.S. for eight years, the Cawleys bought a home in Noosa Heads, Queensland, where they settled with their two United States-born children. Daughter Kelly (born 1977)[33] helps run her tennis camps, and son Morgan Kiema Cawley (born 1981)[16] was a National Soccer League player.

Her brother Ian Goolagong was a gifted amateur tennis player, who never pursued the sport professionally, but he partnered Evonne in the Mixed Doubles tournament at Wimbledon 1982, losing their only match.[34]


  • Home! The Evonne Goolagong Story; Goolagong Cawley, Evonne and Jarrett, Phil (1993), ISBN 0-7318-0381-7[35]

In popular cultureEdit

A play based on the life of Goolagong Cawley called "Sunshine Super Girl", written and directed by Andrea James, will première with the Melbourne Theatre Company in 2020.[36]

Career statisticsEdit

(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)
Tournament 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 SR W–L Win %
Australian Open 3R 3R 2R QF F F F W W W A W A A 2R QF 2R A 4 / 14 41–10 80.4
French Open A A A A W F SF A A A A A A A A A 3R 1 / 4 16–3 84.2
Wimbledon A A A 2R W F SF QF F F A SF SF W A 2R A 2 / 11 49–9 84.5
US Open A A A A A 3R F F F F A A QF A A A A 0 / 6 26–6 81.3
Win–Loss 2–1 2–1 1–1 3–2 16–1 15–4 18–4 14–2 15–2 16–2 5–0 4–1 9–2 7–1 2–1 1–2 2–1 7 / 35 132–28 82.5
Year-end ranking 5 2 3 4 5 17 37

Note: The Australian Open was held twice in '77, in January and December. Goolagong won the December edition. She was seeded fourth for the 1980 US Open Championships, but withdrew from the tournament before play began.


  • These records were attained in the Open Era of tennis.
  • Records in bold indicate peer-less achievements.
Championship Years Record accomplished Player tied
Australian Open 1971–1976 6 consecutive finals Martina Hingis
Australian Open 1975–1977[b] 3 wins without losing a set Steffi Graf
Australian Open 1974–1976 3 consecutive titles Margaret Court
Steffi Graf
Monica Seles
Martina Hingis
French Open 1971 Won title on the first attempt Stands alone
Wimbledon 1980 Won Wimbledon as a mother Dorothea Lambert Chambers
US Open 1973–1976 4 consecutive runner-ups Stands alone


  • a Margaret Osborne duPont and Althea Gibson also hold these records; however, they attained those in the pre-Open Era.
  • b The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December. Goolagong Cawley did not play in the January edition but made the final in the December tournament.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1971/07/03/archives/miss-goolagong-wins-at-wimbledon-evonne-goolagong-wins-wimbledon.html
  2. ^ "Evonne Goolagong Foundation info". Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  3. ^ Judy Klemesrud (1 November 1980). "Goolagong discusses aborigine roots". The Day. p. 11 – via Google News Archive.
  4. ^ Dee Jefferson (4 September 2019). "Tennis champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley celebrated in new Australian play". ABC News.
  5. ^ Matt Majendie, for CNN (30 January 2015). "Evonne Goolagong: Defying prejudice to become a star". CNN.
  6. ^ Joe Jares (26 April 1976). "A net gain for concentration". Sports Illustrated. Vol. 44 no. 17. pp. 28–30, 33.
  7. ^ Goolagong Cawley, Evonne. Home!: The Evonne Goolagong story. Simon & Schuster Australia (1993). ISBN 978-0731803811
  8. ^ "US Open – Women's Singles Champions 1887–2015". www.usopen.org. USTA.
  9. ^ Connors, Jimmy. "The Outsider: My Autobiography". Corgi Paperback – 5 June 2014. ISBN 978-0552166416
  10. ^ Computer glitch denied Goolagong No. 1 WTA ranking in '76, Associated Press, ESPN Sports, 31 December 2007.
  11. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com.
  12. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com.
  13. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com.
  14. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com.
  15. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com.
  16. ^ a b John Roberts (20 April 1993). "Where Are they Now? Evonne Goolagong". The Independent.
  17. ^ Grand Slam champ Evonne Goolagong uses camp to search for next aboriginal player or coach, 13 January 2008, By Dennis Passa, AP Sports Writer, USA Today.
  18. ^ Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5.
  19. ^ "Evonne Cawley (Goolagong)". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Australia Day Honours 2018: The full list". The Sydney Morning Herald. 26 January 2018. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  21. ^ "How the Daughter of an Ancient Race Made It Out of the Australian Outback". www.nytimes.com. The New York Times Magazine. 29 August 1971.
  22. ^ Brisbane International women's trophy named in honour of Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Courier Mail, 23 December 2011
  23. ^ "National Museum of Australia – Evonne Goolagong Cawley tennis collection".
  24. ^ 2017 Victorian Honour Roll of Women Commemorative Booklet. Victoria: Office of Prevention & Women’s Equality, State of Victoria. 2017. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7311-6655-8.
  25. ^ "Aussie tennis legends immortalised on stamps". tennis.com.au. Tennis Australia. 10 February 2016.
  26. ^ "Australian Legends of Singles Tennis". Australia Post.
  27. ^ Michèle Nardelli; Mary–Jane McArdle (April 2016). "A break from tradition in honouring Australian role models". University of South Australia. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  28. ^ Courtney Walsh (7 June 2018). "ITF honours Evonne Goolagong Cawley with top gong at Paris awards night". The Australian.
  29. ^ Goolagong Cawley, Evonne. Home!: The Evonne Goolagong story. Simon & Schuster Australia (1993). ISBN 978-0731803811
  30. ^ Thomas Rogers (20 June 1975). "People in Sports". The New York Times. p. 14.
  31. ^ Goolagong Cawley, Evonne. Home!: The Evonne Goolagong story. Simon & Schuster Australia (1993). ISBN 978-0731803811
  32. ^ Goolagong Cawley, Evonne. Home!: The Evonne Goolagong story. Simon & Schuster Australia (1993). ISBN 978-0731803811
  33. ^ "Evonne Gives Birth to Daughter". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. AP. 13 May 1977. p. 3F – via Google News Archive.
  34. ^ https://assets.wimbledon.com/archive/draws/pdfs/players/c72a7eb0-680f-4068-8e63-82b530471482_MX.pdf
  35. ^ Evonne Goolagong, Tennis Champion – 25 May 1998 – SI Vault .. "whose '93 autobiography, Home! The Evonne Goolagong Story, was an Australian bestseller."
  36. ^ Jefferson, Dee (3 September 2019). "From small-town Australia to world number one: Evonne Goolagong's incredible life the focus of new play". ABC News. Retrieved 4 September 2019.

External linksEdit