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Evonne Goolagong

The Goolagong Impact

The International Tennis Hall of Fame elected Evonne Goolagong into its organization in 1988. Her greatness on the court, in spite of some dry years, was indisputable. But Goolagong used her tennis career as a springboard to go on and work at making the world she knows a better place. Ever since she turned pro, Goolagong had been in the spotlight. As a black woman in a sport that then consisted mostly of the white upper-class, Goolagong stood out. When she was a young star—like many young athletes of color often do—she chose to let her work on the court speak for itself and remaine mostly silent when the microphones where in her face. At the time, Goolagong was not interested in the political implications of being an aboriginal black in a predominately white game.

She stirred controversy more than a few times, however, such as in 1972 when, after being invited to play in a segregated South African tournament, she agreed to participate. Goolagong had been given the classification of "honorary white," for the event, and many people were irritated that, in addition to the tournament being segregated, Goolagong agreed to play in the first place. When asked why she chose to participate, she simply replied, "Of course I'm proud of my race, but I don't want to be thinking about it all the time."

In the years since her retirement, however, Goolagong—who for some time has gone by the name Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, adding her husband Roger's surname to her own—has returned to her origins and, in an attempt to know herself better, has become a student of her people and her native culture. Looking at the world differently now than she did at twenty, Goolagong has a different take on her background. "I would like more people to come out and say they are not racist," she told the Adelaide, Australia Sunday Mail. She worries about the silence of people and how it gets overpowered by those who are racist. "I can feel the tension in the wider community," she said.

After moving to the United States in the 1970s and living in America for almost two decades (first on Hilton Head Island, then in Naples, Florida), Goolagong, along with husband Roger Cawley and their two children, daughter Kelly and son Morgan, returned to Australia in 1991. They bought a house in Noosa, Queensland. "I realized that I had spent too much time away," she told Sports Illustrated's Jeff Pearlman. "I wanted to know who my parents were, who I was… I never knew what it really meant to be an Aborigine. Then two Aborigine elders invited me to particpate in a ceremony, one where you looked deep into yourself. It was the first time I felt truly home."

Goolagong's influence on the budding tennis stars of her home country is strong. "Tennis brought me out of myself and that's why it's been a great education for me," she told the Adelaide, Australia newspaper The Advertiser. This once shy girl now helps other young girls gain ground in a great sport. Goolagong runs the Evonne Goolagong Getting Started program with Tennis Australia.

Awards and Accomplishments

Member of Winning Australian Cup team: 1971, 73-74. When Goolagong retired she had a record of 285 victories, 72 losses and 19 career singles titles
1971 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year
1971 Wins French Open singles; Wimbledon singles; Australian Open doubles
1971-76 Member of Australian Federation Cup Team
1972 Named "Australian of the Year"
1972 Appointed Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to tennis
1972 Wins French Open mixed doubles
1972-73 Wins Canadian Open singles and Canadian Open doubles
1974 Wins Wimbledon Open doubles
1975-76 Wins Australian Open singles and Australian Open doubles
1977 Wins Australian Open singles
1979 Wins U.S. Indoor Championship singles
1980 Wins Wimbledon singles
1980 Wins Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award
1982 Receives the honor of the Order of Australia
1988 Elected to International Tennis Hall of Fame
1989 Inducted into Sudafed International Women's Sports Hall of Fame

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Famous Sports StarsTennisEvonne Goolagong Biography - Growing Up, Becoming A Tennis Star, A Professional Tennis Player, Chronology, Not Done Yet - CONTACT INFORMATION