Melbourne, Australia, 12 December 2022 | Leigh Rogers

Evonne Goolagong Cawley was presented with the Spirit of Tennis Award at the annual Australian Tennis Awards in Melbourne tonight.

The Spirit of Tennis Award recognises an individual who has personified the essence of leadership, passion, sportsmanship, goodwill and dedication to the sport while making a major contribution to the stature of tennis.

Goolagong Cawley proved a popular winner, receiving a standing ovation at Melbourne’s Crown Casino when fellow Grand Slam champion Ash Barty announced her as the recipient of the prestigious award.

“This certainly was a real surprise,” said Goolagong Cawley as she took to the stage. “Particularly coming from a really wonderful friend of mine. She wasn’t just a great tennis player, she’s a great person on and off the court and I’ll love her forever.”

Goolagong Cawley is an Australian great. She won 14 Grand Slam titles, including seven in singles, throughout her stellar playing career.

She was a trailblazer, becoming the first Indigenous player to win a major title, and in 1980 became the first mother in 66 years to win a Wimbledon singles title.

Almost four decades after her retirement, Goolagong Cawley’s passion for making a difference is still strong. The Evonne Goolagong Foundation proudly runs national development camps for Indigenous children across the country.

“This game of tennis has given me so much in my life,” Goolagong Cawley said. “And it’s all because of the townspeople of Barellan. They saw me hitting against a wall every day and they decided to help me.

“I wouldn’t be standing here unless I didn’t have that original support. That support has really taken me all over the world.

“Every time I got on the court, I always felt I was lucky to there in the first place. Lucky to be found in a small country town and lucky not to be taken away … so everytime I set foot on the court, I just felt like the luckiest person in the world.

“I was doing exactly the thing that I wanted to do, which was play tennis. Even when I lost, it really didn’t bother me for that reason. Because I was just lucky to be there.”

Australian Tennis Awards
Spirit of Tennis h
onour roll
Year Winner
2022 Evonne Goolagong Cawley (NSW)
2021 Louise Pleming (NSW)
2020 Not presented
2019 Sam Stosur (Qld)
2018 Casey Dellacqua (WA)
2017 John Cain (Vic)
2016 Angie Cunningham (Tas)
2015 Ray Ruffels (NSW)
2014 Carol Langsford (NSW)
2013 Tony Roche (NSW)
2012 Ian Barclay (Vic)
2011 Lleyton Hewitt (SA)
2010 Peter Luczak (Vic)

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