BHW #2: Evonne Goolagong -
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2002, 01:32 PM Thread Starter
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BHW #2: Evonne Goolagong

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
Born: July 31, 1951 Griffith, New South Wales, Australia
Height: 5'6" (1.67m)
Weight: 130 (59kg)
Highest singles ranking: 1
Career singles titles: 88
Career singles W/L: 695-158

Titles won: (partial list)
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.

Other: 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
1982-17 1983-37

Grand Slam Finishes
Year Aus RG Wim US
1967 3r
1968 3r
1969 QF
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
1978 SF
1979 SF QF
1980 2r W
1981 QF
1982 2r 2r
1983 3r

  • Inducted into Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1989
  • Inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1988 as first solo inductee

Brief bio:
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?
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2002, 04:01 PM
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Thanks for the info on Evonne. She was just pure magic on the court. Evonne was my all time favorite and Wimbledon 1980 goes down in my history book as the most amazing tournament of all time. Evonne finally held on and beat her biggest rival, Chris Evert, in straight sets to take her second big W title (plus my male all time fave Borg took his 5th W title). Evonne had given birth just 3 years earlier and had come all the way back to a GS title. I wish Evonne could have won a few more big titles. She was always right there but didn't have a true killer instinct. She made 4 US Open finals in a row and 3 out of 4 went to a third set but she always walked away with the runner-up trophy. She was a 2/5 in Wimbledon finals, but she excelled in Australia, 4/7. Never the less, she was the most graceful shot maker ever.

Are there any other Evonne fans out there????
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 13th, 2002, 04:42 PM
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Wonderful article! Evonne had to contend with Margaret Court, Virginia Wade, Billie Jean, Chris Evert and Martina later on! I think she had an excellent career. She and Chris were pretty even in the early part of their rivalry and I would love to know the head to head record of Margaret and Evonne! Billie Jean seemed to have her number most of the times they played and Evonne even mentioned that Billie was the most competitive player she played against.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2002, 12:28 AM
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Thanks Brian for the info. I think that Evonne's reluctance to get involved in all things polictical was probably a result of the fact she was aboriginal, and the political climate she grew up in. Asd an aboriginal taken into the the household of white people, given a good eduaction, and having her tennis talent nutured, she probably learned early to toe the line, and not to cause any controversy.

Chris who is my all time fav has made no secret of her admiration for evonne. I think Chris always envied the way that evonne played the game, and her grace around the court, nothing like the metronomic precision of Chris.

Keep them coming Brian!!!
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2002, 12:34 AM
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BTW I think also that BJK made mention in her book how absolutely frustrated she used to get at Evonne because she would never get involved in anything political.

BTW Evonne fans, what is your fav Evonne match?
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2002, 01:01 AM
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Thanks for the article, Brian, and thanks to everyone for their stories of Evonne....I find them quite interesting.

I started following tennis in the mid to late seventies and I first remember Evonne on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1976 when she beat Chris in the year end Virginia Slims Championship final. They wrote about Chris being the "Ice Princess" and Evonne being the darling of the crowd. I felt sorry for Chris and she quickly became my favorite but as the years progressed and Evonne slid down the ranks a bit with the arrival of Tracy Austin and the carnation of Martina, I developed an affection for Evonne. Her three set loss to Martina in the 1978 semis(?) was a thriller with Evonne injuring herself in that third set, barely able to finish the match. Her win over Austin in the 1980 Wimbledon semis was a terrific surprise and I found myself rooting for Evonne against Chris in the final.

Evonne was such a joy to watch and I wish I had the opportunity to witness more of her matches. The name 'Goolagong' has such a beautiful ring to it and fits her to a tee.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 14th, 2002, 01:36 AM
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You may BORROW Evonne but you have to give her back

She was the first tennis player I remember actually and I remember thinking she was graceful and gorgeous. I am definitely a fan! She's a good person too and seems to be supportive of many causes here in Aus (including less fashionable ones).
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 15th, 2002, 01:55 AM
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Evonne matches

Glad to see there are a few Evonne fans out there! She is certainly one of my all time faves as well. I got to meet her last year at the Aussie Open and she is so incredibly friendly and easy going - you can tell instantly that she is such a beautiful spirit.

Anyway, I do have lots of her matches on video and she did feature in MANY classic confrontations. A couple of my favourite matches that I have watched would have to include:

1976 Virginia Slims Final -beating Evert in 3 sets . The tennis was extraordinary with breathtaking rallies

72 Wimbledon SF when she beat Evert in 3 sets

73 Wimbledon QF beating Wade 9-7 in the 3rd set - a real thriller

76 Wimbledon Final when she just lost to Evert in the 3rd set after looking like she might have the title in her hands

78 Wimbledon SF when she lost 4-6 in the 3rd set to Navratilova after badly straining her ankle at 4-4 in the final set and finishing the match in tears

1980 Wimbledon SF when she beat Austin in 3 thrilling sets

1980 Wimbledon Final beating another all time fave Chris Evert

1973 USO Final losing in 3 wonderful sets to the great Margaret Court

1974 USO Final losing another heartbreaker 7-5 3rd to another legend BJ King - some incredible rallies that had to be seen to be believed

1975 USO Final on clay - Evonne played like a magician to win the first set off Evert but eventually fell to the clay court maestro in 3.

1974 USO SF - Evonne beats Chris in 3 tough sets after destroying Evert 6-0 in the first set

Anyway, they are a few of my favourite matches that I have seen on video. As far as live performances go, I did see Evonne live in the early 80s at the NSW & Aussie Open but she was coming back from injury and certainly well short of her best. But she still played majestically.

Perhaps, along with Maria Bueno and Hana Mandlikova, the sweetest shotmaker in the history of our sport. And one of the most gracious and humble champions to grace the courts.

Viva la Goolagong!
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 15th, 2002, 02:33 AM
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Tennis videos, wasn't the 76 Wimbeldon final 8-6 or 10-8 or something in the 3rd. I remember Chris mentioned in her book that she won a crucial point (it could have been match point ) at the net, and it was the first time she had come to the net all match.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 15th, 2002, 03:32 AM
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I saw Evonne Goolagong-Cawley recently at the Australian Open. As the newly appointed Fed Cup captain for Australia she was making sure that she got to as many of the matches involving Australian Girls as possible. She was watching Cindy Watson with great interest and was the first one to rush up to Cindy and congratulate her after her win over Gagliardi. It was really sweet, she was so excited for Cindy.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 15th, 2002, 03:43 AM
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That one point from the King-Goolagong US Open final(you know the one tennisvideos has to rank as one of the best points ever.
A fantasy of mine would be a Goolagong-Mandlikova-Novotna-Bueno and Lenglen exhibition. Tennis as art.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 15th, 2002, 10:45 PM
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Hi Rollo!

Yes indeed I do know exactly which point in the 74 USO Final you are talking about! It was indeed one of the most sensational in history - and the frenzy it worked the crowd into was amazing. BTW, there was a similar point in the first set of that match. That is one match I do like to watch every so often and I know both players consider it one of the most exciting they ever played.

Hi Ballchange! Yes you are right, the 76 Wimb Final was 8-6 in the third. It really could have gone either way and was a classic encounter in brutal heat.

There is another very touching moment I have of Evonne on tape. She has just won the 75 Aussie Open final against Navratilova and at the presentation she starts to thank her coach Vic Edwards "who is like a father for me" and she burst into tears and had to be helped off. I'm not too sure when her father died but obviously it was on her mind.

It is a crying shame that Evonne didn't win one US Open, which would have given her the 4 Slams. She certainly went close, losing 4 finals in succession and 3 of those were in 3 sets. Had it have still been played on grass in 75 and 76 I feel she would have taken one of those, as it was she took the first set off Evert in 75 on clay - and Evert was invincible on clay at that time, so Evonne was obviously in tremendous form that year. Oh well, she is still a great champion.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 2002, 04:16 AM
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Great post, Brian!

Evonne is a great lady.

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