Evonne Goolagong Cawley AO, MBE (born 31 July 1951) is an Australian former World No. 1 tennis player. She was one of the world's leading players in the 1970s and early 1980s, during which she won 14 Grand Slam 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.
Born Evonne Fay Goolagong, she is the third of eight children from an Australian Aboriginal family. Her parents, Kenny Goolagong (an itinerant sheep shearer) and Melinda, are members of the Wiradjuri people. She 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. In 1965, Vic Edwards, the proprietor of a tennis school in Sydney, was tipped off by two of his assistants and 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.
Career and Grand Slam success
Goolagong Cawley is 12th on the list of all-time singles grand slam winners level with Venus Williams and ended her career with 82 singles titles. She took singles and doubles titles at the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon, but she was unable to win any title at the US Open. She won seven Grand Slam singles titles in her career, reaching a total of eighteen Grand Slam singles finals. During the 1970s, she played in seventeen 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 of the 1970s, she played in 21 Grand Slam events. Her only four defeats prior to the finals came at the US Open 1972 in the third round; Wimbledon 1974 where she was defeated in a quarterfinal; and she lost at the semifinal stage at both the French Open and Wimbledon in 1973. In 1971, 1975, 1976 and 1977, Goolagong reached the final of every Grand Slam in which she competed. Between 1973 and 1978, she reached the final of almost every Grand Slam singles event she entered. The sole exception was 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 semi-finals, in 1974 to Australian Kerry Melville at the quarter-final stage, and in 1978 to eventual champion Martina Navratilova in the semi-finals; she did not enter in 1977, the year her daughter was born. Also in 1974, Goolagong Cawley teamed up with Peggy Michel to win the Ladies' Doubles title. She has won the women's doubles title at the Australian Open five times and the French Open once, as well as mixed doubles at the French Open once.
Following her victory at the season-ending WTA Championships in 1976 - known at the time as the Virginia Slims Championships - her sixth tournament victory of the year, Goolagong Cawley 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 Championship, she only played in two tournaments for the remainder of 1976, losing in both finals to Evert (Wimbledon & US Open). She focused instead on WTT Team Tennis and exhibition events.
Goolagong Cawley realized during the 1976 US Open final that she was pregnant and did not play again on the regular tour until the late summer of 1977, continuing through to Wimbledon 1978. An 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. Injuries at the beginning of 1980 kept her away from the tour for many weeks in the first six months of the year, but she returned in triumph at Wimbledon, yet only played three further tournaments for the remainder of the year after her final grand slam victory, these being the US Clay Court Championship where she lost in a semi-final to Andrea Jaeger and the Canadian Open where she lost in a quarterfinal match. She withdrew from the US Open where she had been seeded fourth, due to a recurring back injury and in the early stages of her second pregnancy, although she did play the Australian Open championships at the end of the year. Goolagong Cawley was then absent for almost all of 1981, returning to tournament play in Australia towards the end of the year and reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. She played sporadically throughout 1982, before retiring after Wimbledon 1983.
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 and won the 1980 Wimbledon title.
Goolagong Cawley reached four consecutive US Open singles finals, from 1973 to 1976, but lost them all. She is the only player in the open era of the event to have lost four consecutive finals and the only woman to do so in U.S. championships history. Goolagong Cawley made seven consecutive finals at the Australian Open, winning four titles in a row, both records for the open era, although she did not compete in the January 1977 event. Despite reaching the final at her first two appearances in 1971 and 1972, after 1973 Goolagong Cawley did not compete at the French Open for a decade. She 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 Cawley was ranked number one in women's world tennis for two weeks in 1976, though it was not reported at the time because incomplete data were 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.
Life after touring
Goolagong Cawley spent some time as the touring professional at the Hilton Head Racquet Club in South Carolina before returning to Australia.
Goolagong Cawley 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. Cawley also runs an annual "Goolagong National Development Camp", with the aim of encouraging Aboriginal children to stay in school through playing competitive tennis.
Awards and recognition
Goolagong Cawley was awarded Australian of the Year in 1971. She was appointed an MBE in 1972 and made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1982. In 1985 she was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. In 1988, Cawley was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
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.
The Evonne Goolagong Cawley Trophy, awarded to the female champion at the Brisbane International, is named in her honour.
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.
Evonne Goolagong is a minor character in the play Frost/Nixon.
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.
In April 2016 Goolagong Cawley was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of South Australia in recognition of her distinguished service to the community.
While competing in the doubles event of the Wimbledon warm up event in Eastbourne, Goolagong married former junior British tennis player Roger Cawley in London on 19 June 1975. She continued in the tournament, losing two days later in the final partnering with Olga Morozova. 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. Following her wedding, Cawley settled in Naples, Florida.
After living in the U.S. for eight years, the couple bought a home in Noosa Heads, Queensland, where they settled with their two United States-born children, Kelly and Morgan. Daughter Kelly (born 1977) helps run her tennis camps, and son Morgan Kiema Cawley (born 1981) was a National Soccer League player.
- Home! The Evonne Goolagong Story, Cawley, Evonne Goolagong and Jarrett, Phil (1993), ISBN 0-7318-0381-7
|Australian Open||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|
Note: The Australian Open was held twice in '77, in January and December. Goolagong won the December edition. She was seeded #4 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|
|French Open||1971||Won title on the first attempt||Stands alone|
|Australian Open||1974–1976||3 consecutive titles||Margaret Court
|Australian Open||1971–1976||6 consecutive finals||Martina Hingis|
|Australian Open||1971–1977||7 finals overall||Serena Williams|
|Australian Open||1975–1977||3 wins without losing a set||Steffi Graf|
|US Open||1973–1976||4 consecutive runners-up||Stands alone|