Swiping a player from the Australians. (I hope they don't mind.
) Info from the early open era is sketchy, so the numbers may not jibe. But we get a pretty good idea of how good she was.
Evonne Fay Goolagong
July 31, 1951 Griffith, New South Wales, Australia
Highest singles ranking:
Career singles titles:
Career singles W/L:
Singles: 1980- Wimbledon; 1979- US Indoors, Chichester; 1978- Chichester, Hollywood, Dallas, Boston, Beckenam, Surbiton; 1977- Australian Open (Dec.), Virginia Slims Chps., Avon Chps., Sydney(Nov), Sydney(Dec), Melbourne; 1976- Australian Open, VS Chps., Chicago, Akron, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Hilton Head; 1975- Australian Open, Detroit; 1974- Australian Open, VS Chps., Avon Chps., Denver; 1973- Italian Open, Canadian Open, US Indoors; 1972- South African open, Canadian Open; 1971- French Open, Wimbledon, New South Wales Hard Courts.
Doubles: 1976- Australian Open; 1975- Australian Open; 1974- Australian Open, Wimbledon; 1973- Canadian Open; 1972- South African Open, Canadian Open; 1971- Australian Open, South African Open.
Fed Cup- 1971-76, 82
Fed Cup W/L: Singles- 22-3, Doubles- 13-2 (1 unfinished).
Year End Rankings:
1968-? 1969-? 1970-? 1971-1 1972-2
1973-3 1974-2 1975-5 1976-2 1977-U
1978-3 1979-4 1980-5 1981-U
Grand Slam Finishes
Year Aus RG Wim US
1970 3r 2r
1971 F W W
1972 F F F 3r
1973 F SF SF F
1974 W QF F
1975 W F F
1976 W F F
1977 W* 4r
1979 SF QF
1980 2r W
1982 2r 2r
- Inducted into Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1989
- Inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1988 as first solo inductee
Evonne was born on Bendee Street in the tiny village of Barellan (population 450), the 3rd child of Ken and Melinda Goolagong. There is much fascination about the meaning of her aboriginal surname, Goolagong. It is often erroneously reported as meaning "tall trees near still water", but that is actually the translation of her first name, Evonne (pronounced EE-vun). While the exact meaning of Goolagong is uncertain, anthropologists believe it means "nose of a kangaroo".
In 1956, Bill Kurtzman raised money to start a tennis club in Barellan. Evonne used to accompany her older brother and sister to the club. When an Aunt gave 9-year-old Evonne her first racquet, she fell in love with the sport, abandoning all others. (She even slept with the racquet!)
Kurtzman was greatly impressed by Evonne, and got word out about the young prodigy. Vic Edwards sent one of his "talent scouts", Colin Swan, to evaluate the girl. As soon as he saw her play, Swan rushed to the phone to report to Edwards. "There was this aboriginal kid. She just flowed
around the court.She was the kind of natural talent you see once in a long while. She didn't know how to make her shots, of course, but she was always there, in the right place, without even thinking about it."
Edwards took her under his wing, and began to work on her game. He entered her first tourney at age 11. She reached the semis. By age 13, she was attracting national attention, with many claiming she showed more talent than Court at that age. Edwards decided that the only way for her game to fully blossom was to bring her to live with him and his family. Evonne was enrolled in Willoughby High School in Sydney, and later in a business college.
For 3 straight years, Evonne won every tournament she entered. At age 16, Edwards proclaimed she would win Wimbledon by 1974. Many "experts" laughed at him. In 1970, Edwards finally entered Evonne in international tournaments, with mixed results. She beat world #5 Julie Heldman at the British Hardcourts, but lost in the 1st round of Wimbledon to Peaches Bartkowicz. In total, Evonne won 7 of 21 tourneys she played.
3 months before the 1971 Australian Open, Evonne scored the biggest win of her career, beating Margaret Court at the Victorian Championships. When the Australian Open began, with Patty Hogan and Winnie Shaw the only significant international participants in a watered-down field, hopes were high for a final round matchup between them. (Court had extracted revenge the previous week in a close match.) Both progressed smoothly through, and the "dream final" came to be. Evonne stormed out to a 6-2 first set win. Margaret responded by grabbing the second set in a tiebreak. Evonne raced to a 5-2 lead in the 3rd, her first slam title within sight. But then, disaster struck. Evonne's calf muscle cramped up. The veteran Court seized the advantage, and ran off 5 straight games over her hobbled foe. However, this proved to be only a temporary setback, as Evonne would score the big breakthrough months later.
The only knock against Evonne throughtout her career was her unwillingness to take a stance on, or even discuss, matters political. Whether it was supporting the women's tour, or doing something about the plight of her people, the aboriginies, Evonne begged off, much to the dismay of many. It was only well after her career that she recognized the power she held to change things, and was more willing to do so. (Better late than never.)
But all told, Evonne was one of the most graceful champs ever to take the court. To watch her in full flight was to be mesmerized.
Anyone have any stories or info about Evonne to add?