Re: Blast Girl II:Goolagong
Goolagong's Grace Goes Beyond Tennis
June 08, 1987
Scripps Howard News Service.
There is happiness after tennis. Just ask Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who in her heyday added a stately grace to a sport often said to be for superbrats.
"I don't think there was anybody who didn't like her, either from a playing or personal standpoint," said Chuck Reichblum, president of Century Features News Service. "She was a marvelous person and so graceful on the court, just marvelous to watch. If the whole world was like that, it'd be a better world.
"A lot of players are pampered and spoiled. She wasn't. She was so unaffected. I remember having dinner with her during the U.S. Open in New York and some guy comes over and asks for her autograph. She said, 'How did he know who I was?' She'd won Wimbledon. Her photo was half of the back page of the (New York) Daily News that morning.
"Her only failing was a lack on intensity. She never took tennis seriously or she probably would have have had an even better career. . . . You could see her five minutes after a match and not know whether she won or lost. It did not bother her to lose."
The naturals hear that complaint often. The Goolagongs and Everts don't scream like John McEnroe, don't dive after balls like Boris Becker, so they are said to play without emotion.
"I can swear under my breath, too," Goolagong said. "Some people just show it more than others. But I always figured if you lose, you can't do anything about it. You just wait for the next time.
"I won Wimbledon twice, the French Open once, the Italian Open once, the Australian Open four times, the U.S. Indoor twice. I must have been very keen on tennis to leave my hometown at 11 and be able to handle it, even though I was very homesick. I had to have some sort of toughness there."
And success. A native of New South Wales, Australia, she was the fifth woman to win $1 million. She made the finals of 18 Grand Slam singles events. She won 92 titles, 80 percent of her matches and 40 percent of her tournaments. She won Wimbledon in 1971 and 1980, matching Bill Tilden for the longest gap in titles.
The list of accomplishments might have been longer, but after marrying Englishman Roger Cawley in 1975, she was slowed by injuries and the birth of her daughter in 1977 and her son in 1981. A broken toe brought about her retirement in 1983.
The Cawleys moved last fall from Hilton Head, S.C., to Naples, Fla., where she is director of investor and community relations for a company that develops resorts. She also stays busy as a model, mother, wife and homemaker. And as a fisherman. "Here, you always catch fish," she said. "Last time I was out, we caught 82. Even on tour, it was my favorite pastime. I just find it very relaxing and peaceful."
She also finds peace in tennis, a sport she never enjoyed as much as her critics thought.
"I'm still playing a bit here and there for charity," said Cawley, who turns 36 in July. "Now, I'm not as frustrated, the pressure's off and it's nice and peaceful. I like to hit and giggle rather than go out and try to perfect everything.
"I appreciate so much more about the game, appreciate what I've done. But I know I couldn't do it on a professional, competitive level anymore because my body can't handle it. The main reason I stopped was my injuries after having children. My whole body fell apart."
Still, she was the first mother to win Wimbledon since 1914.
"Even Margaret Court hadn't done it," she said. "People tend to think after having children, that's it. I wanted to prove them wrong. I didn't realize how much it took out of the body.
"Life on the road alone is boring and lonely. The children brought a lot of pleasure to my life. I'm glad I had them when I did. Now I can give a lot of attention to them rather than brood about missing tennis."