ALMOST 40 years after soaring to international stardom with French Open victory, Evonne Goolagong Cawley has been singled out for one of the most prestigious awards in tennis.
The former world No.1 will next month be presented with the International Tennis Federation’s highest accolade, the Philippe Chatrier Award, for contributions to tennis in both her outstanding on-court career and dedicated public service after it.
Winner of seven singles majors, six grand slam doubles crowns and another in mixed doubles, Goolagong Cawley will be presented with the award at the World Champions dinner in Paris on June 5.
The Philippe Chatrier Award, named after the former ITF President, was introduced in 1996 and is awarded each year for outstanding contributions to tennis.
Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova and the All England Club are among the former recipients.
Goolagong Cawley burst on to the international stage in 1971 when she won the singles titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon while still only 19.
Lifting the trophy at the All England Club, where she defeated compatriot Margaret Court in the final, was the fulfilment of a childhood dream for Goolagong Cawley, and established her at the top of a flourishing women’s game.
STRENGTH: Masur warns of Stosur French threat
A 16-year career included four Australian Open victories between 1974 and 1977 and second Wimbledon triumph in 1980 – as a mother.
She was also runner-up at the US Open in four consecutive years, 1973-76, rising to the No.1 ranking in 1976.
Goolagong Cawley was part of three of Australia’s Fed Cup-winning teams in ‘71, ‘73 and ‘74.
After retiring in 1983 with 92 singles titles, Goolagong Cawley began to learn more about her Aboriginal heritage and, having spent time living in Florida, moved back to Australia in 1991 with her family.
Since returning to her homeland, Goolagong Cawley has worked with Tennis Australia to increase female participation in tennis in Australia, and for more than two decades has acted in many capacities as an ambassador, advocate and role model for young indigenous Australians.
For the last 12 years she has run the Goolagong National Development Camp which uses tennis to promote better health, education and employment for young indigenous people.
In 2012, she became chairperson of the Evonne Goolagong Foundation and with federal government support set up the Dream, Believe, Learn, Achieve program.
The program gives more indigenous children access to tennis through its ‘come and try’ days which run throughout Australia and provide a route for the best to attend state development camps.
ITF President David Haggerty said: “The ITF is delighted to recognise Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s exceptional achievements as a player and the lasting legacy she has left for so many people in the years since.
“Not only is she a legendary seven-time Grand Slam singles winner but she is also a champion of diversity, who has worked tirelessly in her home country to improve the lives of many through the sport we all love.”