Love the Legends of Tennis
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Sydney, Australia
I just found an old post I did on Goolagong... thought I should repost it in case any recent posters on the Blast of the Past wanted some info on Evonne.......
Evonne was a tremendous force in the 70s, esp between 71 and 76 which was just prior to her retiring to have her first child. And let us remember that the 70s was one of the periods of astonishing depth at the top of the womens tour - as Mark mentioned, there was Court, King, Evert, Goolagong, Wade, Morozova, Stove, Turnbull, Richey (Gunter), Reid, Barker, Fromholtz, Durr, Casals, Ruzici etc. For those who don't know much about the history of tennis all I can say is that I believe the early to mid 70s had arguably the greatest depth at the top of the game of any period in our games history - except probably the top 10 in recent years.... even that is debatable.
During an amazing run between 1971 and 1976, Evonne won Wimbledon in 71 and was runner up in 72, 75 & 76! 4 times finalist at Wimbledon in 6 years! Not only that, but during those 6 years she won the Aussie Open 3 times, and don't crap on about weak fields as she beat Navratilova, Evert and Tomanova - and was 3 times runner up (to Court twice and Wade). So that's 6 Aussie Finals in 6 years! She won the French in 71 and was runner up in 72 to King. I don't think she played again during the 70s there, and at the US Open she was runner up on 4 consecutive occasions - 73, 74, 75 & 76! Losing to Court, King, and Evert twice (on clay) - 3 of those finals were in 3 sets. On top of that she won the end of year Virginia Slims Championships twice beating Evert in the finals.
Then in 1977 Goolagong retired to have her first child. She came back of course but was beset by injuries. Who could forget the heartbreaking Wimbledon SF in 1978 when she led Navratilova 4-3 in the final set before her ankle gave way and she screamed in pain and limped through the remainder of the match. She finished the match in tears. It was so sad to watch. For her to come back and win Wimbledon in 1980 after having a child and coming back from injuries was a sensational effort and one of the most magical sporting moments I have witnessed in my life. Her semi-final win was one of the great Wimbledon matches when she beat Austin in 3 thrilling sets.
How is that for an astonishing record!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let us just summarise her 6 years between 1971 and 1976:
4 x Wimbledon Finals from 6 attempts including a win in 1971
2 x French Finals from 2 (maybe 3) attempts including a win in 1971
6 x Aussie Finals from 6 including 3 wins
4 x USO Finals from 5 attempts
2 x Virginia Slims end of season Championship wins from 4 attempts
So she was in the finals of 16 Grand Slams out of 20 during that 6 year stint!!!!!! AMAZING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Let me just repeat that amazing figure, because I never realised this before until I just typed it out tonight, and it is an amazing feat -
EVONNE GOOLAGONG MADE 16 GRAND SLAM SINGLES FINALS OUT OF 20 EVENTS IN A 6 YEAR PERIOD - and it was during a period of great depth on the womens tour.
Then she had her first child and basically was never the same again, with injuries playing a major role in the remaining years of her career.
I am not sure of Goolagong's head to head against the world's best prior to her first retirement in 1977, but I imagine it was very impressive!!! I would love it if someone was able to dig up those records.
Evonne Goolagong was a majestic and graceful artist. The only player who came close to her style was the legendary Maria Bueno.
Long live the legend of Evonne Goolagong.